[These are my notes for a talk I gave at the Prepared Conference 2019]
The play of the devil from the beginning has been to redefine things such that God’s people come to believe that God’s word no longer applies (Gen. 3:1). A few decades ago, the liberalizing faction tried to claim that the Bible condemned promiscuous or violent or idolatrous homosexuality but not committed, monogamous homosexual unions. The false claim was that the ancient world didn’t know about committed, loving homosexual unions. But these claims have now been refuted. Today our fearless and daring schemers are trying to redefine lust as “attraction” and they are trying to redefine homosexual lust as something entirely different than heterosexual lust. But lust is lust, and sexual sin really is a staircase people/cultures fall down not separate, unrelated doors in a hallway various people enter. And this is good news because it means that the Bible actually prepares us to deal with these sins and temptations.
Leaving the Natural Use
The Bible teaches that homosexual sin is the judgment of God on a society (Rom. 1:24-26). Homosexual sin is something that God gives people over to. And we should not miss the fact that this consists of vain imaginations, foolish and dark hearts, and becoming fools (Rom. 1:21-22), which is to say that this sin (like all sin) doesn’t really make sense. So, there is a kind of randomness to it, in the sense that it makes no sense. But when sinners sin, they tend to find the same wicked grooves as generations before. When men sin sexually, they are not actually being creative, and their “heterosexual” promiscuity is already heading inevitably in a homosexual direction. Leaving “the natural use of women” is not merely speaking about intercourse. The “natural use” of women is one man marrying one woman and loving her faithfully “till death do us part.” While there are varying degrees of sexual confusion, fornication, prostitution, adultery, pornography are all unnatural uses of women. Sodomy and bestiality are the end of that road, but they are practiced by refusing to love one woman well (e.g. Lev. 18:20-24). To the extent that a great deal of sexual promiscuity is driven by perverted masculine sexual impulses, manipulating women to serve the selfish desires of men, we should see homosexual lust as one of the likely results.
Is Homosexual Sin Worse than Other Sin?
This question is often playing on ambiguity rather than actually trying to be theologically or pastorally helpful. The Bible is very clear that some sins are worse than others. David prays: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression” (Ps. 19:12-13). The Westminster Catechism agrees: “QUESTION 83. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous? ANSWER: Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.” Ezekiel speaks of “greater abominations” (Ez. 8:6, 13, 15), and Jesus speaks of the greater culpability of those who reject Him than cities that were judged for their sins (e.g. Mt. 10:15). Likewise, those who cause little ones to sin are clearly deserving of greater judgment (Mt. 18:6). Even the image of removing the log from your own eye before addressing the speck in your brother’s eye presupposes different degrees of sin. Of course, all sin is sufficient to separate one from God and merits eternal death (Rom. 6:23). All sin is equally damning eternally, but not all sin is equally damaging temporally. Some sins do more harm than others, and therefore God hates some sins more than others. Homosexual lust is a “vile affection” (Rom. 1:26), and if heterosexual lust is heart-adultery, then homosexual lust is a shameful, debased abomination of the heart (Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:27-28).
At the root of so much of our cultural confusion and corruption is the plague of fatherlessness. Sometimes absent or limp or abusive fathers cultivate harsh and domineering women and lost, confused, and starving children result. Fatherlessness creates holes that frequently drive kids to look for happiness and love and acceptance in all the wrong places. The “LGBT community” offers a superficial version of love and family. But the corruption of sin (unchecked) also seeks to corrupt others (witness sodomite parades, drag queen story hours, pornography, etc.). Faithful fathers normalize masculinity/femininity, family, marriage, work, etc., but the goal of these public displays of corruption is to corrupt the naïve, ignorant, bitter, and lost. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Pet. 2:19). In the absence of faithful fathers, hurt feelings, loneliness, bitterness, puberty, and curiosity combine to create highly flammable situations, and if the wrong image, video, thought, situation, friendships can get lodged into mind and body and habits, ruts of sexual sin can quickly seem like identities — as though you’ve always felt that way. The Bible teaches that identity is cultivated by our fathers: ultimately either God is our Father or the Devil is our father (Jn. 8). And the gospel is the good news that there is a way back to our Heavenly Father through the death and resurrection of His Son.
Use biblical language unapologetically: Call lust “lust” not “attraction” or “orientation.” The only “orientation” the Bible gives us is either male or female. And that is created by God and established by biology. In the very rare instances of biological/chromosomal ambiguity, parents/pastors/doctors should do their best to understand and receive what God has created as either male or female. And those sex assignments are general callings to be oriented to the world in certain ways (as male or female) and not others. Even a “eunuch” should live as a man/woman even if marriage and/or children is not possible. Failure or refusal to accept those assignments, to long for others, to pretend others is envy, lust, bitterness, rebellion, perversion, corrupting, and shameful.
Call sinners to repentance through the blood of Christ: The point of biblical clarity is to call people to the simplicity of repentance. Sin is a tangled web of confusion. But the blood of Christ simplifies everything. We want to call sin sin because the blood of Christ washes away all sin. Apart from the gospel, we have nothing. All the schemes and machinations of men amount to various forms of alchemy, our own man-made “salvation” concocted by psychoanalysis, medications, free health care, whatever. But our culture is increasingly like the woman in the gospels, who the more she was treated by the physicians the worse she got. Jesus is the great physician, and He bled and died for these sins (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Homosexual lust should not surprise us or make us panic. The consequences are more severe, but where sin has abounded, God’s grace abounds still more.
Cut off the hands, pluck out the eyes: After sin has been recognized, confessed, and forgiven, the same steps of repentance apply across the board: put off the old man and put on the new man (Eph. 4:22-24ff). Where are you tempted, where are there weak points? Do you need to get rid of your smart phone, cancel your internet, stop spending time with those friends? Do you need to get into the Word, join a Bible study, get a second job, tithe, learn to be a man/woman?
Pursue Christian marriage and family: “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Cor. 7:9). Critics want to claim that Paul was here only speaking about heterosexuals who cannot contain their passion, but this is to assume distinctions where the Bible speaks of none. In the vast majority of cases, someone tempted to homosexuality is fully capable of heterosexual marriage. And with careful discipleship and monitoring, they should be pastored toward that goal.