Until just this week, I wrote a semi-regular column for the Hudson Valley News. In response to a previous columnist’s work on speaking positively about his church’s acceptance of homosexuality, I sought to write a fair and balanced treatment on the other side of the equation. That column was too much for my editor who found it offensive and canceled my column for future issues of the paper. I think the issue though, is of great importance, and so I include that column here for a wider readership. I noted to my editor, it was not with me he was offended, but what God’s Word taught.
The times sure are changing. Cultural mores of which we have been used to for generations are quickly being discarded for the sake of toleration (although those who are opposed to such abandonment are usually not privy to toleration). Rarely, if ever, are underlying philosophical and worldview issues behind these changes examined by the average person. People today are simply willing to go with the ebb and flow of the prevailing thought of the culture, especially as represented (perhaps misrepresented) by the media. And surely, there is no hot-button issue bigger than same-sex marriage. However the Supreme Court rules, there is more to understanding the acceptance of an issue than whether it is legal or not.
I’m certainly no philosopher. My expertise is in the Christian Scriptures. So, that’s the only way I can truly speak on this issue. And while some denominations have chosen to change their position on whether God finds homosexuality acceptable or not and whether or not it is acceptable for the church to marry said people, the vast majority of the church around the world (and in North America) continues to affirm that homosexuality is sin and that same-sex marriage is forbidden in the church. For instance, the three largest Christian denominations in North America (the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church) all see the Bible as condemning homosexuality as sin and prohibiting same-sex marriages.
What does this say about the state of Christian thinking on this most pressing issue? It means that, while there has been some dissent from the majority opinion, the majority opinion is just that, that homosexuality remains outside the bounds of God’s will for humanity.
Does that mean that folks like Westboro Baptist Church are right in their attitudes toward homosexuality? Of course not. Instead, the church should be loving and kind and gracious to those with whom they disagree. But loving and kind and gracious doesn’t mean capitulating to positions with which they disagree or tolerating behavior in their midst of which the Bible outlines as sinful. Sin is sin in God’s eyes, whether the sin of adultery, lust, theft, pride, jealousy, or lying. All sin separates us from God (Romans 3:23). But just because some people, and some churches, want to make it seem like homosexuality is not sinful (whether they were made that way or not) does not actually change what the Bible says nor what the collective wisdom of the church has taught for over 2000 years.
So, while I will not affirm someone’s homosexuality as being acceptable to God (as it is not – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), and nor will I marry you to celebrate in affirmation that sin, I will love you as Christ has called me to love all people. And love, that abounds in wisdom and discernment, will also require me to tell you that as a sinner you are separated from God—whether as a homosexual, a drunkard, or a gossip—but that you can have forgiveness of your sin and that you can have hope that God will accept you if you place your trust in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1).
No matter how we seek to twist the Bible out of its context, the text says what it says, that homosexuality is sinful just like all other sins in the Bible. But it also says that forgiveness is available to all, because Christ loved you enough to die for you (Ephesians 1:7). So while I cannot affirm your sin or celebrate your union in sin, I can love you, and show you the way to forgiveness, mercy, and grace.