“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”–Leviticus 18:22
Question: What do the following people have in common? Erasmus, Tchaikovsky, Herman Melville, Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Somerset Maugham, Hart Crane, Marcel Proust, Frederick the Great, Lawrence of Arabia, Sir Noel Coward, Rock Hudson and Oscar Wilde? They were all allegedly homosexual.
What is homosexuality? How does one understand it? The phenomena is nothing new. After all, Moses writing in Leviticus 18:22 mentioned it three thousand years ago! But what should we think and do about it? For answers let’s look to the Bible.
What Is It?
First of all, what is homosexuality? “Homo” means “alike or equal to.” Sex with a like or equal gender.
Homosexuality is not intimate friendship between two men or two women. An example of this would be David and Jonathan, an intimate relationship, a soul bonding so sublime, David remarked, “Very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (II Samuel 1:26). Another example of an intimate friendship that was not homosexual was that between Ruth and Naomi. Of their relationship Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).
C. S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, said that friends stand “shoulder to shoulder” in their relationship, whereas lovers are “face-to-face.” So, intimate relationships shoulder to shoulder as David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi enjoyed are not homosexual and are to be sought and lived out in Christ’s grace.
But if powerful friendship attraction with the same sex is not homosexual, what is?
Webster’s Dictionary defines homosexuality as “exhibiting sexual desire toward a person of one’s own sex.” Christian theologians and counselors define it as “A neurotic sexual preference for the same sex expressed in fantasy and mutual genital action.”
About now you’re probably wondering if you know any homosexual people. And let me assure you that you most certain ly do. Homosexuals are your neighbors, family members, some of your friends, perhaps your boss or some of your fellow employees, church members or married friends.
A 1948 sexuality study revealed that 10% of the American male population was homosexual. The study was last repeated in 1978 and found that 17% of the population was homosexual. And, undoubtedly, the phenomenon is rising. For instance, 30% of the male population of San Francisco is homosexual. Today it is estimated that 20% or 1 in 5 persons in the United States is struggling with homosexual behavior.
Actually, the whole issue has “come out of the closet” and into the glare of media attention in the last several decades. Tennis celebrities, leading politicians, church leaders and artists have declared their homosexual preference and organized “gay rights” movements demanding recognition, acceptance, and legal protection from discrimination.
The basic claim of the homosexual movement is that theirs is simply a third sex. It is a birthright. And, as such, it is neither immoral nor a perversion. Therefore, homosexuals should be allowed to “marry,” to teach our children, to be accepted as ministers, political offices, and practice the Free expression of their sexual preferences between two consenting adults.
Yet the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. Leviticus 18:22 describes it as an “abomination.” And Genesis 19:11 says that it was so widely practiced in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that God actually destroyed them with fire.
Biblical theologians see homosexuality not as the real threat. It is a profound problem that deserves our attention and compassion. But the real issue is not that people are “gay,” but that the gay movement insists on promoting homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle.
The root of the problem, then, is calling good that which God calls evil. And this is as old as the original temptation in the Garden of Eden where man and woman turned from God and authentic goodness to live in defiance of moral orderliness.
Isaiah the prophet put it this way: “We have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
It is not enough to sin, to transgress God’s law. We also reject the very idea of morality, declaring sin to be moral.
How Does One Become Homosexual?
Passing on from what homosexuality is and isn’t, let’s ask another question: How does one get to be a homosexual?
Let me clearly state at the outset that scripture and scientific research agree that homosexuality is not caused by demonic possession. While Satan may aggravate the problem, he does not cause it. Nor is homosexuality a given from birth, a physical and psychological predispositioning.
Basically a person becomes a homosexual by choice. And the factors that go into making that choice can be very simple or extremely complex.
Environmental factors can contribute to the choice. Sue was raped when she was thirteen. And for the next five years she felt dirty, she feared men, and slowly began to find joy and comfort and sexual pleasure in face to face relationships with women.
Jimmy was sixteen when he first had a sexual experience with a woman. Fearful and unskilled, he failed, and his girlfriend laughed at him. Deeply wounded in his spirit, Jimmy began to think of himself as “not much of a man.”
Walt was twelve years old, pre-puberty, and at the beach with his family when a 16 year old girl cousin traumatized him with an aggressive seduction that left him feeling shameful, guilty and afraid. For years he avoided girls. And finally his pent up passion, his need for intimacy with fellow human beings found opportunity for expression with another man.
In each of these cases homosexuality began with a traumatic experience, a mental block, and subsequent negative feelings.
Another factor contributing to the choice of homosexuality is a breakdown of parental relationships. Perhaps a couple has a little baby girl and the father wanted a boy. So the dad sets out to make his little girl his boy. She chops wood with him, hunts, is a sports addict and all-round tomboy. From her father, no less, she gets a wrong view of what she is.
Dr. Harold M. Voth has wisely observed that “The underpinnings of personality are biologic underpinnings. None are more fundamental than the qualities of maleness and femaleness. One of the most fundamental functions of parenting is to evoke, develop and reinforce gender identity and then proceed to shepherd the developing child in such a way as to bring his psychological side into harmony with his biological side, and thereby develop a solid sense of maleness and femaleness.” Yet a mother and a father can fail in this, leaving a child to make the wrong choice as to his or her identity.
Eddi received no affection from his father. His brothers called him a sissy. Classmates at school mocked him mercilessly because of his poor athletic ability. Lonely and agonizing in the throes of adolescence, he found affection in the gay bars frequented by soldiers.
Jane’s father was a tyrant whom she watched enslave and demean her mother for 18 years. As soon as she could leave home she did so. And deeply etched in her mind was hatred for her father. “I’ll never let any man do to me what my father did to my mother.” And now all of her choices for relationships are with females.
Misinformation can be yet another factor contributing to a homosexual choice. And our society is full of it! You grow up hearing your parents say, “Sex is bad! Don’t do it!” Yet the television, the cinema 1 and the radio endlessly blather about its mysteries, joys end hurts, filling you with anxious longing. Add to that the jokes in the locker room, the ignorance of bull sessions, and a few magazine articles and you’ve got a kid who doesn’t know what to believe!
And so, he begins to experiment. Macho image. Fantasy Magazines. Lurid movies. Masturbation. Perhaps a sexual encounter that leaves him feeling miserable and guilty. And he in confusion decides he is not much of a man, so “I must be gay or something. After all, what’s left? The real thing didn’t do it for me!”
Genetics can also come into play as one makes sexual choices. Remember the Old Testament twins, Esau and Jacob? Esau was very hairy, an outdoors man, an avid hunter. Jacob was a mama’s boy who loved to cook. And his body was devoid of hair. Now, both were all male, just different in appearance, temperaments, and skills. And it is still the same today. A man can be all male yet be sensitive, given to cooking and other non-athletic pursuits. Or a woman can be all female and yet be tall, have a deep voice, and love athletic competition.
Society, however, has often decided what true manhood or femininity is, and anyone who in looks or behavior is outside that norm is ridiculed and pressured. So, you get a large, athletic woman who goes where she is accepted, even rewarded for who she is. Others might call her a “queen” or “macho woman” or lesbian, but on the basketball team, they do not. So with the taunts and rejection of her peers cursing her, being played and replayed like a tape in her mind, she gets her thrills in sweat, sprints, and lay-ups on the court. She seeks recognition, intimacy, and ultimately, an outlet for her sexual passions in female-to-female face-to-face relationships.
What I am eager for you to see is that homosexuality is a choice. And it begins where all right or wrong relationships begin— in the mind. A hurt. A rejection. Confusion. Misinformation. Daydreaming. Fantasy. Mental bonding. A start is made. A psychological predispositioning is achieved. More and more investment is made as poor parental relationships, trauma, and genetic factors come into play. And finally you have a lonely confused person with a natural God-given passion for intimacy who finds opportunity and some measure of fulfillment in a sexual relationship with his own gender.
Next, the act becomes a series of actions. A habit is formed. And just like a parson who learns to satisfy him emotional needs with a cigarette, a lifestyle is begun and all of one’s sexual energy is channeled into homosexual relationships.
Certainly none of us is special. We all wrestle with sexual trauma, poor family relationships, misinformation, genetic predispositioning and the like. And the great tragedy is that this is not how God meant for us to learn about our sexuality. The church and the family, the two most natural means of education should be our means of enlightenment. Yet, sadly, they more often than not are silent leaving us to learn on our own from the world.
What Does the Bible Say?
This woeful inadequacy must be rectified! Why should we be embarrassed and silent about that which God was not embarrassed to create? Why, the first command God gives in Scripture is to be sexual in marriage! “Be fruitful and multiply…” (Gen. 1:28).
It is so important that family and church speak scripture clearly, intelligently, compassionately, and widely today as regards sexuality. The youth of our nation are crying out, Sex! Passion! Choices! Help!” And the best family and church can do is to hiss, “It’s dirty!” “Go take a cold shower” “Run a mile.” Or “Just don’t do it!”
And nowhere are we more silent on the subject than when it comes to homosexuality. “It’s an abomination,” we are quick to point out. But according to Proverbs 6:16-19 so are lying and gossip.
Our society has elevated some sins to the status of acceptability like working or traveling or playing sports on Sunday instead of going to church. Or telling lies or living an over-consumeristic lifestyle. But other sins like murder and adultery end particularly homosexuality are “abominations.” Yet according to the Bible sin is sin no matter which of the Ten Commandments we break ourselves against.
Actually the Bible mentions homosexuality specifically seven times. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Judges 19:22-25, Romans 1:25-27 (the only reference to lesbianism), I Corinthians 6:9-11, 1Timothy 1:9-10, and Genesis 19:1-11, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And the interesting thing about it is that in none of these references is homosexuality approved. Instead, it is clearly viewed as a sinful and unnatural act, a perversion, and even a crime punishable by death.
Another way or getting at the biblical view of homosexuality is not to study what the Bible says about the perversion. But what the Bible says about legitimate sexual expression. Thus, by contrast with righteousness one may see how homosexuality is a falling short.
The Bible teaches that human history began with a marriage in the Garden of Eden and it will also end with Christ’s marriage feast (Gen. 2 and Rev. 19). The Bible also teaches that God created man in His image male and female. He did not begin with two bodies. He formed one and from the one made the second. So, one body became two–male and female. And God gave the woman to the man to complete him.
When Adam first saw Eve he spoke poetry to her recognizing God’s plan, “Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” And so it is that the Bible gives the blueprint for all sexual encounters between a man and woman in marriage. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother, cleave unto his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
The Bible is clear that in the union of man and woman in married love the image of God is most clearly manifest! Married sexual love makes us like God in our oneness, like God in our completeness, like God in our love, and like God in our ability to produce life.
Two females cannot bear children. Two males cannot reproduce. Hence there is no image of God in homosexuality. Such a bonding fully practiced in the human race is so short of God’s image and plan it would cause the human race to become extinct within 100 years!
God simply and wisely began society with marriage and the family, the basic building block of civilization. And without it society disintegrates. Of this the witness of history is clear. Arnold Toynbee, the historian, has pointed out, “No society has continued to exist in peace that has failed to discipline itself sexually.” Destroy marriage and the family and you’ll destroy a nation.
Can A Homosexual Change?
So far we have considered what homosexuality is, how one gets that way, and what the Bible has to say on the subject. Now, let us look at the all important question, can a homosexual change?
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 plainly says, ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers, will inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Hear that good news? “Such were some of you…”Homosexuality is definitely something we can turn from and put in our past.
The good news begins with the bad news. Homosexuality is a sin. It leads to death. Eternal separation from God. And any step toward ridding one’s life of homosexuality must begin with confession. “I am doing it. It is a sin. I am a sinner.”
Next admit you are powerless to deal with it. But God isn’t. “Is anything too hard for me?” God asks. “Is my arm short that it cannot save?” He challenges.
Now it is time to trust Christ to forgive your sins and to have died in your place the death we all deserve. Invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into your life to enable you to live as He wills (Rev.3:20).
Next, set about breaking off old relationships. Say “No” quickly and up front. Tell why. Refuse to go to their apartments, the bars, the beach houses and such. Like Joseph in Genesis 39, Flee the proximity of temptations and be willing to pay the price. As Paul said in Romans 13:14, “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Envision the consequences of homosexual behavior. Disease. Death. Detection. Such a vista of pain will give you incentive.
Join a small support group where honesty, prayer, caring, teaching and accountability prevail. The Bible says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together…,” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Internalize the Word. Since homosexuality is a choice then you can un-choose it. Since it is something you learned then you can unlearn it. But the process of turning away must begin where the process of turning toward homosexual behavior began–in the mind. That means re-education. It means starting to think of yourself and your sexuality as God does. So, fill your mind with Scripture. Meditate upon it. As Paul said in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”
Furthermore, you must see deliverance from homosexuality not as an event but as a process. I’m well aware God can work instantaneous miracle cures. But I also know most of the miracle healings I have seen have taken place over a long period of time and have been fraught with lots of tears and frustrations along the way. And it is the same with homosexuality as it is with most any other bad habit. They walked into your life step by step over the years and must be walked out of your life step by step, act by act, over the years.
The experts say deliverance from homosexual bondage has to begin with a personal choice. “I want out. I want to change in Christ.” The first sixteen months are the hardest. The next two to three years are still a constant struggle. And the next three to five years are one of growing new and wholesome relationships built upon God’s Word.
A final point is in order here. Professional counseling might be in order, especially in the area of inner healing, forgiveness, and the healing of the memories. Christian counsel from a mature professional is best.
What Is The Church’s Ministry?
In closing, let’s ask one final question, and that is, what is the church’s ministry to the homosexual? Very simply put: It is to hate the sin but love the sinner.
It is not our task to mock homosexuals by calling them queens, queers, fairies, or homos. Nor does it glorify God when we beat them up or recoil From them in horror and run away.
It belongs to our ministry to hold up God’s scriptural ideal— singleness, or one man for one woman for life in marriage. It is our further ministry to enable people to reach the ideal by providing counsel, teaching, example, and accountable fellowship. And finally, it is our ministry to minister to those who fail whether it is in adultery, divorce, or homosexuality or any other sexual sin.
Maybe you’ve had no experience with homosexual ministry yet. But you likely will since one in five is struggling with some degree of it. So prepare to have a little patient compassion.
Larry, a homosexual I know, confided in me recently, “Stephen, being gay is anything but gay. Why, I’m not gay, I’m sad! Agonizing! Do you know what it’s like to go from one intense but short-lived relationship to another, to suffer job discrimination, childlessness, fear of disease, brutality, and loneliness? My whole sex life is a storm of pleasure, guilt, fear, shame, and dread of God.”
Homosexuals are sinners just like you and me. They’re made in God’s image, beloved by Christ, and entirely redeemable when they come to repentance, faith and obedience.
If you suspect one of your friends is homosexual, pray for him/her, build a trust relationship and seek to invite a conversation. Listen to him. Leave off the pat answers. Don’t be too quick to read the Bible in their face. Share your own testimony of sin, struggle, repentance, faith and hope with them. Call them to Christ. And you can be sure what Jesus has done for you He will surely do for them!