The long-delayed conclusion to a series of posts beginning with The One Where I Lose Friends. Finally posted because I still haven’t really answered the question “why.”
I’ve raised the question in the comments of both posts if homosexuality can be a Romans 14 issue.
That is, could it simply be a matter of conscience? If it violates your conscience, it’s wrong; if it doesn’t, it’s not.
Conscience seems to be the criterion in Romans 14 for the question of celebrating certain holidays and eating meat sacrificed to idols.
Either, in that culture, could have be interpreted by some devout Christians – and by those outside of Christ – as compromise between culture and Christ.
Paul’s instruction was that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with either. But when the freedom to celebrate was used to taunt or tempt a Christian whose conscience was offended by it, it becomes wrong. It is sin.
So far, I’ve had no takers on my question.
Perhaps because the answer is “no.”
Homosexuality is not simply a matter of conscience.
Romans 1 – and I’ll just stick to this one New Testament citation – makes it clear that homosexual activity stirs God’s wrath; both lesbians and gay men are cited. The activity is called “unnatural” and “perversion.” It is described as bringing an unspecified penalty in the very person of the participant. It is listed as the consequence of having exchanged the truth of God for a lie; for having failed to see the evidence of God in His very creation and having participated in idolatry. Those who suppressed the truth by their wickedness made a choice, and God let them make it. He has always let us make our own choices. And He has always let us live with the consequences … in this life.
In fact, things just seem to get worse for them as they: “… become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
Yup, that’s right. God gave them over to shameful lusts. Then He gave them over to depraved minds that were even worse: gossiping, slandering, insolent – well, you just read the list.
And right at the heart of each of them is self.
That’s where we get off-track with homosexuality. It can be like a relationship that is loving, caring, and lifelong – so it seems harmless and therefore sinless. But it’s a relationship that two partners choose against what God wants for them. They want it for themselves.
I’ve read the arguments that God makes people gay. I don’t buy them. That means that God creates some people who have no choice and others who do. I don’t buy that. That means that God creates some people whom He intends to disobey Him. That’s just not consistent with what I read of His nature. He may love Jacob and “hate” Esau, but Esau still chose. (And he lived with the consequences. And he forgave his brother and reconciled with him. But that’s another whole story.)
We sleep with whom we choose – if they choose us as well.
Now, I will buy the argument that God makes people with predilections toward homosexuality … just as He makes people with tendencies toward obesity, greed, sexual proclivity, and all sorts of other self-seeking appetites. Some choices are just tougher for some people.
The answer is not be condemnatory toward some whose struggles with sin are different from our own and accepting toward others whose struggles are similar.
It’s not to justify or re-interpret scripture to approve what God doesn’t.
It’s to live convicting, transparent, confessional lives among all people. It’s to love openly, deeply, and transformationally. It’s to renounce sin in our own lives and encourage others to do the same … because none of our sins – even really bad ones like disobeying our parents – is more powerful than the blood of Christ. The answer is to try to live like Him.
That’s the choice we all need to make.