I’m not normally one to comment on current affairs, but following the recent US ruling allowing Gay marriage in all states and having read a number of articles and blogs I felt compelled to write. This is a big issue, which can cause a lot of consternation and argument, so I wanted to try to deal with it sensitively and as far as I am able, to bring a biblical perspective.
Firstly we need to decide if gay marriage is ‘right’ according to the bible and then we need to look at how we, as Christians should handle this thorny issue.
That we should be discussing whether gay marriage is right or not shows just how far our society has influenced the church. We are called to be a ‘light on a hill’ to proclaim God’s truth boldly, no matter what the reaction. But sadly the church (especially in England where I live) has remained largely silent.
Let’s look at what the bible says, which should be our plumb line for every matter. The first mention of homosexuality in the bible is in the context of God’s judgement against Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18 and 19 where it appears that the main reason they were destroyed was because of their homosexual practices. Some people would take issue with this, but just a few books further on in the bible, the condemnation of homosexuality is more conclusive;
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)
A couple of chapters later in chapter 20:13 it even commands that two men sleeping together should be put to death!
You may say, that is just the Old Testament and things have changed since then, but moving into the New Testament the message is much the same. In Romans chapter 1 it describes the way mankind have continually rejected God and as a consequence “For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)
Finally (and I could include a lot more) The Apostle Paul lists some sins that prevent someone from inheriting the Kingdom of God “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers 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 by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
It is clear then from an unbiased point of view that God considers homosexual practice a sin, which of course must include Gay marriage which by the biblical definition is not marriage at all. A strong and loving commitment maybe, but not marriage.
So how are we, as Christians, to proceed? I have a number of observations which I hope will help us negotiate this controversial issue;
· The first thing that occurs to me is to ask that well known question “what would Jesus do?” As followers of His, we should act in the same way that He did. A clear example of how He handled sexual sin is found in John 8:1-11 where the religious leaders bring to Him a woman caught in adultery. There is no question she is guilty, but Jesus exposes their hypocrisy and forgives her, but crucially tells her to “Go and sin no more.”
· Love should and must be our highest motivation. We are children of a loving God and we are called to love in every circumstance. All too often Christians have been known for their judgemental spirit and not for their love. However much we disagree, we must find a way to be consistently loving.
· Through this loving spirit, rather than avoid the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community, we should engage with them and find ways to bless them. There has traditionally been a lot of suspicion between each other, mainly due to a reluctance to engage. We as Christians must take the initiative.
· It is possible to have healthy, accepting, loving relationships with those you disagree with without compromise. Jesus was known as a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19) and yet he maintained His purity.
· When the time comes, we must stand for truth, whatever the world says and however much we are opposed. The world may hate us, but we owe it to them to show them the right way. We may suffer for it, but Jesus never promised it would be easy. That’s why he calls us to take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). This means we deny ourselves and prefer Him.
· We must remember that this is relatively easy for us. A homosexual who comes to Christ must be prepared to live a life of celibacy. This is, as you can imagine, incredibly hard and so we must be building communities that provide loving and emotional support, commitment, security and friendship to everyone who accepts Christ, whatever background they are from. Following Christ is the highest calling and the most fulfilling one there is. When everything else is stripped away and Jesus is all that you have, you will find that Jesus is all that you need.
If you want to read more about this and similar subjects, the ‘Gospel Coalition’ website has gathered 50 (yes 50!) articles on the subject. I have not read all of them, but it is a great resource for extra study. Click on this link http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/50-resources-for-equipping-the-church-on-homosexuality-and-same-sex-marriage
Have a good week.