Religious Views on Homosexuality
“The topic of homosexuality is well known to many Christians and churches. Discussion of this topic can sometimes be extremely tense and can lead to problems. This can directly be linked to the cause of churches splitting up over their different views on homosexuality. The Methodist Church recently has gone through tremendous debates over the subject of same-sex marriage and the voting on gay clergy. It has even been said that the church “’will most likely split’” over this debate. This is simply one of many examples of the growing problem of homosexuality in the Christian faith. Many will argue that the Old Testament laws don’t apply any longer to the Christian faith. Therefore, it is important to examine what the New Testament author’s such as Paul wrote about homosexuality. This paper will examine the question; is homosexuality a sin according to Paul’s writings in the New Testament.
Historical Context/Contemporary Overview
Homosexuality appears as far back as Genesis with an early mention to it in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many have stated that homosexuality was not the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Another Old Testament reference to the topic of same-sex marriage in the book of Leviticus states, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” This passage often sees use when one wants to condemn same-sex relationships, however, it is also considered to be obsolete as some of the other Old Testament laws. Looking outside the biblical texts, homosexuality acceptance is well documented in ancient Greek culture. This acceptance ranges from the acceptance of their gods having “stories of same-sex exploits,” to the city-state of Thebes having a full regiment of five-hundred gay men. This group of fighting men was ”renowned in the ancient world for their valor in battle.” This acceptance of gays from Greek culture began to follow into Roman culture with their romanization. It was not as tolerable as in ancient Greece and it began to see a decline, however, there were still remnants of same-sex relationships. This can be seen when Paul writes a letter to the Roman Christians about this subject.
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Rome began to become more intolerant toward same-sex relationships. This especially was spreading when emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and made the religion a tolerable religion. This allowed Christianity to spread to Europe in the form of Catholicism. The Europeans for centuries followed “laws against homosexual sex were severe in their penalties.” The laws of the Europeans carried over to colonial America where the people had acquired sodomy laws against this act. These laws were then carried out to a case by case basis as society began to experience great changes. Controversy raged on about this subject in 2003 when President Bush saying, “”‘I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.’” There were continuous debates about the topic of same-sex marriage in the United States. It wasn’t until June 26, 2015, during the Obama administration, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. This is when homosexuality became widely accepted by many people in all walks of life. With these changes to the law came many changes in society, as homosexuality became known as a social norm. It is because of this sudden change that there is much controversy on if homosexuality is still considered a sin.
Who is God and how does this question help analyze this issue? God is not bound by any laws and is the aseity that lives outside of what human minds can’t even begin to comprehend. God is fully independent of human’s universe. This shows the scope of God and how he is compared to human understanding. God is a loving God as one can see from many passages of scripture. God is shown to care about his creation, even when his creation rebels against him, he is still a loving God. This is also shown in many aspects of the Bible when the prophets are warning the people to repent to avoid the wrath of a loving God. The Bible never tries to prove that God exists as the Scriptures take the stance shown in Revelation. God begins by saying that he is the “Alpha and Omega,” this is then immediately followed by “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” This backs the answer that God is and always will be.
God created man in his own image as the Bible states this in the very first chapter. This sets up who humans are as they are made in the image of God. God made man a suitable helper, that helper was given the name woman. It is written, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” This is perhaps what God originally had in mind for marriage, as he created these two to populate the earth. Homosexuality can be viewed as “a perversion of God’s intended design for intimacy and procreation.” Human beings are creatures with sinful passions, as this is clearly stated several times in Scripture. Christians are called to rise above their sin and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Homosexuality has been around since early in Genesis and is continuing to be widely accepted in society today. It is important to remember what is true, good, and beautiful. What is true? Truth is throughout the Bible in texts such as in Leviticus and Genesis, these texts are often seen as outdated by supporters of same-sex marriage. This is why it is important to focus on the New Testament writings. Paul writes that “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men.” Paul even describes this as being a “perversion” and that these sinners will receive their punishment for their sins. This text clearly explains that men having relations with one another is shameful.
Paul also writes about homosexuality again to a different audience in the book of 1 Corinthians. The passage where the matter of homosexuality is discussed comes after Paul writes about how the “wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul then expands on this by saying that the sexually immoral will not enter “nor homosexual offenders.” These passages are clear on the matter of homosexuality. Examining what is good is tricky as one reads through these passages. It is important that Christians remember the goodness and forgiving nature of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Thought his matter often leads to heated arguments and debates among Christians, it is also important to remember what is beautiful. What is beautiful is God’s endless love.
Serve the World
Now that this has been examined through the texts of Scriptures it is crucial to discuss a Christian response to this controversial topic. First, Christians should acknowledge all the evidence the Bible presents for its stand on the subject of homosexuality. Many people consider homosexuality to just be about love and describe how the Bible focuses on the topic of love. This kind of love, however, can be understood to be nothing but a sin against God. Churches and Christians who accept a tolerance to this homosexual way of life can “degrade God’s moral standard but also lead others to sin.” It is important to understand that this is a sin and creates division among many believers in Christ.
Christians should consider showing the love of Christ as one would show to any sinner. Homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle and a dangerous way of living. This is why it is so important to warn people of their sin and attempt to save them from the eternal torment awaiting them. Christians cannot just ignore how people are living their lives in sin, as God has created everyone in his image. This being said, one should not yell at a one who is suffering through the sin of homosexuality that they are going to hell. Jesus would want every Christian to show this person the way to eternal life and see that their life is forever changed through Christ. It is time for churches to take a stand against this epidemic of homosexuality and preach against the sin but love the sinner. It is important to be gentle when dealing with this on a case-by-case basis. One does not want to be responsible for causing someone to run from the salvation offered through Jesus. For “the gospel invitation extends to every sinner” even homosexuals are loved by God. It is important that the Church welcomes these people with open arms and lead them to Christ in a loving caring way, rather than just tolerating their social acceptance.
It is important to remember that Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus came to save the lost in this world as the Bible explains in many parables told by the Son of God. Homosexuality, like any other sin, should be recognized by Christians. However, if the Church trusts in Jesus’ teachings and begins to preach to the lost, then perhaps they will be able to win sinners for Christ. It is written that “There is no one righteous, not even one.” This is so important to remember when dealing with this sin. For if we as Christians show these people the love of Christ and express our faith, then we may be able to change people’s lives for the better.”