Conservative Evangelicals and Homosexuality - The Bible and Homosexuality (Part 8)

Having covered the Old Testament passages that refer to same-sex sexual relationships in the last blog in this series, this time I want to turn to the New Testament. We could consider a number of passages which refer to "sexual immorality" (the Greek porneia and related words). Given the Old Testament background and the culture of the time, these almost certainly often include reference to homosexual sex (see for example Mark 7:21, Ephesians 5:3 and Revelation 22:15). However, for brevity we will consider those passages that refer specifically to homosexual sex. We have already briefly considered Jude 7 in light of Genesis 19, so there are three more passages to consider.

Romans 1:26-27

The second half of Romans describes how God's wrath against humanity's sin is expressed as he gives them up to ever-increasing sin. Vv.26-27 are given as a particularly clear example of this.

The verse describes as shameful and unnatural the homosexual acts of both men and women. Efforts have been made to neutralise these verses by suggesting that they refer only to abusive forms of same sex relationship, for example with slave boys. However, the use of "one another" in v.27 means that this is not a possible interpretation.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

1 Corinthians 5 and 6 are largely concerned with sexual immorality and in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 this is shown to include homosexuality.

These verses is significant because it emphasizes that homosexual sex is a sinful activity that will exclude you from the kingdom of heaven. This isn't placing homosexual sex on a different level of sin, as it is included in a list with all sorts of other sins. However, homosexual sex, like the other sins on the list, will lead to God's judgement unless, like the other sins on the list, it is repented of.

The Greek for "men who have sex with men" is actually two words. Again there have been efforts to suggest that these words don't reject all homosexual behaviour. However, Paul seems to be summarising types of sexual immorality at the start of the list in v.9, while referring to the passages we looked at in Leviticus last time. As such, the consensus is that he is referring to the active and passive partners in a male homosexual relationship.

1 Timothy 1:9-10

In these verses, Paul is showing that the Old Testament law is good in that it shows sinners their sin. Again we have a list of sins which includes sexual sins and specifically homosexual sin (the same Greek word as one of the words in 1 Corinthians 6:9).

By referring to the law and using a word derived from those in Leviticus for "those practicing homosexuality," Paul shows that the Old and New Testaments give a united testimony that homosexual sex is sin. This is foundational to the good news of Jesus, as Paul goes on to say in v.11 that this teaching of the law on sin "conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." (1 Timothy 1:11)

Conclusion

So we can see from the New Testament that the passages which refer specifically to homosexual sexual relationships are all negative. They universally describe such relationships and acts as sinful. Sin in the New Testament is serious. It is at the heart of the message of the gospel, because sin excludes us from the kingdom of God. The gospel is the message of how such sin can be dealt with by repentance and faith in the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. So Paul, following the list of sinners in vv.9-10, can continue to the 1 Corinthians 6:11 to describe these sins to be in the past and the present state of these Christians as washed, sanctfified and justified.

This makes the current moves to bless homosexual sexual relationships both very wrong and very dangerous. They are wrong, because it is blessing something that God, in his word, both Old and New Testaments, defines as sin. It is dangerous, because it undermines a key aspect of the gospel. If we call good or blessed something which God calls sin then we are teaching people that they do not need to repent of something that will keep them from the kingdom of heaven and keeping them from being washed, sanctified and justified

The biblical view of homosexuality is often portrayed as harsh and unloving in today's culture and parts of today's church. However, in light of the teaching of the Bible it is hard to imagine anything more unloving than misrepresenting what God calls sin, so that people cannot repent and be saved.

Having surveyed the material from the Bible, I will turn to some practical applications for us as Christians and for the Christian church in the next blogs.

Other Posts in the this series:

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