Current: Navigating the Waters of Today’s Same Sex Culture – part 2, primary passages

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Current, Part 2

Navigating the Waters of Today’s Same-Sex Culture

Bruce A. Hess

Last week we launched a series of messages that we entitled, ‘Current: Navigating the Waters of Today’s Same-Sex Culture.’ I made an important point last week I want to emphasize again this morning, this little series we have is, in essence, one message, but it is over three weeks. So, if it is your first time today, I would beg of you to get to our website on and access either the audio version from last week or the video version from last week, because it is just, again, one message over three weeks. So, if you are coming in now, you are coming in right in the middle of it all. And, last week we laid out a lot of what our heart is, in tackling this particular series.

Now, we’ve entitled it ‘Current,’ which somewhat has a double entendre to it. Current, meaning it is a current event, but current, also picturing a current as you would have it in a river. Last time I shared a personal experience I had with a strong current, I want to share another one with you this morning.

Another experience that we had came in 1998 when my wife and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We went and rented a condo in Leavenworth, Washington. Part of what we wanted to do was to go to white water rafting and we did it with the Osprey Raft Company. We went white water rafting on the Wenatchee River there, which is a class three of four white water river. So, we went on a 4.5 hour float down the Wenatchee. My wife snapped a picture of me I want you to see here. I am 47 years old there, but two things stand out to me about that picture. First of all is the incredible farmer’s tan

[a tan limited to the arms and neck that farmer’s get because they work out in
the sun with a short-sleeve shirt on. The rest of the body is very white.]

I have, Mr. White Boy there. Then, the second thing that stands out are the very hip aviator shades that I was wearing, kind of a classic look back in the day. But, when we went on this trip we had the experience of being carried along by a current. The key, when you are being carried along by a strong current is your guide. Your guide is the one who will navigate you through the current safely. The guide is the one who is aware of the potential hazards. When you go down the Wenatchee there are some real white water holes that are there, some of them have these names, the Rock and Roll, another white water hole is the Drunkard’s Drop, and then my favorite one of all was the Suffocator. We did manage to go through all of those and because of our guide, we got through on the other side.

But, whenever you face strong current, we need to be aware and alert to potential hazards, potential perils, potential pitfalls, that may befall us. Here we are dealing with a strong current in our culture right now, today, where we see the same-sex culture surging in incredible ways. As we tackle this subject matter, I want to emphasize that our guide, where we are going to get our cues for how to navigate the current, is not going to be from Hollywood, it is not going to be from society, it is not even really going to be from our family and our friends. It is not even going to be from certain church and denominational leaders. Our cues on how to navigate this current are going to come from Jesus Himself. They are going to come from the word of God. We want and desire for God to be God and allow Him to speak to us in this arena.

Last week we mentioned a verse from John, chapter 1 and verse 14, that describes Jesus. It is a beautiful description. It describes Jesus as being full of grace and truth. That is what His ministry was, He delivered truth, but He also delivered grace. We said that we do not want to be, actually there are four different kinds of churches. There is, first of all, a permissive church, we don’t want to be one of those. A permissive church just rationalizes and winks at what God may say is wrong or sinful.

We don’t want to be a judgmental church that just attacks and mocks people who have same-sex attraction.

We do not want to be an indifferent church, where, maybe out of fear of reaction, develop spiritual laryngitis and just never talks about this subject matter.

Our goal is to be a grace and truth church. A grace and truth church would say that anything that God says is sin, is sin. A grace and truth church would also say, though, that God’s grace is the hope and the healing that every one of us need. It is through God’s grace that we can be transformed.

I shared last time that, in my own particular life, all the way back to my high school days, through the present time, I have been friends with people who have gender identity issues, who experience same-sex attraction. It has gone on for multiple, multiple, decades. I have interacted with them on this subject matter and talked about the process and what would we do, what should we do, how do we honor God with all of this?

I do want to emphasize again this morning, that I have no disrespect, no lack of concern for, no hate toward somebody who may have same-sex attraction in their life. I have absolutely no desire, none, to denunciate or demean someone for whom Christ died.

Today we are going to spend a lot of time looking at some truth, so we need to roll up our sleeves, okay? We are going to cover a lot of material today. We are going to look at the primary passages on this subject matter. Three of them are foundational and three of them are pivotal. The three foundational passages we are going to look at reflect God’s design when it comes to marriage and relationships. Then, we are going to look at three pivotal passages that directly address homosexual behavior. That is the plan of where we are going today.

Part of the fact that this current is surging more and more is, the increasing promotion of revisionary interpretations of classic understanding of Bible passages. There have been a lot more revisionary interpretations coming out and, in essence, they are really not new interpretations, they are interpretations that liberal scholars, for years, have promoted to detour around what seems to be straightforward in Scripture. But, what is new in recent times, is there are now a few who promote revisionary interpretations who fly the flag [to promote themselves as] of evangelical or fly the flag of reformed theology.

One of those individuals is a wonderful seminary professor by the name of, James Bronson. Another one of those individuals is a young man we have mentioned before by the name of Matthew Vines. They are promoting these revisionary interpretations. In the case of one of them, they have a close family member who is a practicing homosexual. In the case of the other, he himself is same-sex attracted and it may very well be that those experiences in their life have colored their conclusions. But, that is between them and God.

By the way, I have mentioned Matthew Vines’ book, God and the Gay Christian,  and next week we are going to have available to you a resource sheet and we are going to give you all kinds of resources, one of which will be a link to a free e-book that gives a Biblical response to Matthew Vines’ book.

I do want to be very transparent with you, when these brothers put forth these revisionary interpretations, it is really disappointing to me, because I see rationalizing, I see bending, I see inserting of ideas, I see these interpretive gymnastics to try to get classic passages to say what they want them to say. That bothers me, as someone who is a student of the word of God.

So, we are going to spend a lot of time with truth. Are you ready to do that?  Here we go. Let’s begin by looking at these primary passages. First of all the three foundational passages and the very first one of those foundational passages is found in the book of Genesis and chapter number 1, verses 27 and 28. I want to read those verses.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Now the book of Genesis means, literally, the book of beginnings. When we go back to the book of beginnings, we are going back to the head waters of the divine design for the human race. Look at verse 27, it says, “God created man,” we could easily translate this, “mankind,” “In His own image, in the image of God He created mankind; male and female he created them.”

What we have here, in chapter 1 of Genesis, is more than just some story about Adam and Eve. What we have is God laying out a divine pattern. You will notice that part of that divine pattern is, He creates mankind, “male and female He created them.” Mankind is created in the image of God, but the image of God is even broken into male and female. Males and females are image bearers of the image of God and they are expressions of the image of God, but they are different. Men and women, if you haven’t noticed, are a little different physically.  We are different emotionally, we are different psychologically. God is laying out the principles here. Remember, God is the inventor and the definer of what marriage is really all about.

Look over at chapter 2 for a moment. We want to look at the second passage. We are going to move through this stuff fairly quickly, but I wanted you to see it all, verse 18 and then verses 21-25. Let me read verse 18, what happens in chapter 2 is, God zooms in, we get a little closer look at all of this. Is says, verse 18,

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him,” Corresponding to him.

Drop down to verse 21, “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Now, we have, actually set before us, in this set of verses, chapter 1 and chapter 2 together, the three-fold purpose of marriage that God had when He designed it. There are three purposes for marriage.

The first purpose is to mirror God’s image. The first idea of a man and a woman coming together in marriage is that they would mirror God’s image, that male and female together would reflect the heart and the character of God.

The second purpose of marriage in God’s design is that they would mutually complete one another, that they would be companions. It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the woman to be his companion.

Then, the third purpose for marriage in God’s design is to multiply a godly legacy. In other words, the man and the woman were to come together and have life-giving impact from generation to generation to generation to generation.

Isn’t it interesting that only a male and a female have the potential to reproduce? Some of you might be thinking, ‘Well, yeah, I understand that, but I know some males and females who are married, a man and woman together and they can’t reproduce. How does all of that fit into God’s purposes for marriage?’ Well, we need to remember that Genesis 1 and 2 is followed by Genesis 3, where we have the fall of humanity and the Fall has affected our bodies and even a husband and a wife can sometimes struggle because the Fall impact on their bodies might make it difficult for them to get pregnant. But, it is still God’s design. Male and female is the divine pattern.

Verse 23, “She shall be called Woman.” Ishah, in the original language of Hebrew, because she was taken out of Ish. You have Ish, is the male, and Ishah, just the feminine ending added to it, is the female. You remember what happens? They come out of one, right? That is why, when they get married and they come together it says they become one flesh again. This is just God’s design from the very beginning. 

Even later on, in the book of Genesis, when humanity was rebelling and God says, “I am going to bring a flood upon the earth and I am going to destroy people.” And, we had the ark and what happens with the animals in the ark? They come two by two, they came paired, they come male and female. It is just a reflection of God’s design.

I want to share with you some revisionary interpretations that people will put forth on passages like this and I’ll tell you what one of them is, regarding what we have looked at here in this particular chapter. One individual comes and they say, ‘Well, you see, what is really important here in Genesis, chapter 2, is what it says in verse 18, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” They say, the heart of what God really did at the beginning was, He designed companionship and what is important is companionship. It is not male, female, that is important. It can be male, male. It can be female, female. What is important is companionship, it can come in different flavors, but that is the heart of what God is communicating here.’

Now, to be honest with you, that is a very convenient interpretation to come up with, just to highlight one aspect of this. It completely ignores the whole emphasis on male and female and frankly, it dismisses two of the purposes of marriage. Because if it is just all about the center one, mutually completing one another, if that is what the whole design is about, we are leaving out male and female together mirroring God’s image and we are certainly leaving out the purpose of multiplying a godly legacy over time. Very, very important that we don’t leave those purposes out.

Here is what I want us to see from all of this, what we are seeing unpacked for us here, is the reigning assumption of the entire Old Testament. The reigning assumption of the entire Old Testament is, we understand God’s initial design for relationships and marriage, as it is laid out here.

There is a third foundational passage we want to look at. We’ve got to go to the New Testament in order to see this passage. It is found in the very first gospel in the New Testament, in Matthew, chapter 19, verses 4-6. I am going to read verses 4-6 and I invite you to follow along as I am reading. The subject matter of marriage has come up and Jesus, Himself, speaks and He says,

“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?”

What is He doing? He is going back to the headwaters.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two, (male and female) shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

What is really interesting is, when you read a lot of the material on this whole subject matter of homosexuality, there will be people who will make this claim, they will say, ‘Jesus never mentions homosexuality. Nowhere in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, does He ever mention homosexuality, so therefore He must approve of it because He doesn’t mention it.’

I want to make two observations about that thought. Here is the first one. Jesus also does not, in any of the four gospels talk about child abuse. Jesus also, in the four gospels, does not talk about rape, but that does not imply that He approves of those things. Here is the most important thing I can say about that thought, ‘Well, Jesus never mentions homosexuality directly,’ you know what He does do here, though? What does He do? He affirms the divine design. He affirms the design of marriage that involves a male and a female. Jesus is embracing the norm and the natural understanding from the Old Testament and He is re-emphasizing it now in the New Testament. So, this is also the reigning assumption in the New Testament. The reigning assumption is that this is what we would consider to be marriage and the norm, male, female relationships.

So, we are looking at primary passages. We have, very quickly, gone through three foundational ones that talk about God’s design. Now we want to look at three pivotal passages and these passages are going to directly address the issue of homosexuality and homosexual behavior. Does God directly address homosexual behavior? The answer is, yes, in the Bible, He does. Old and New Testament. Does He classify it as acceptable or as unacceptable? Again, it is important for us to remind ourselves that what God thinks about this is very crucial, because one day every human being stands before God. So, understanding God’s perspective is vitally critical for us.

Let’s look at these pivotal passages. We are going to see two from the Old Testament, one from the New. So, let’s go, in the Old Testament to Leviticus, chapter number 18. You have Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus. Chapter number 18, and we will look at the very first pivotal passage that addresses homosexual behavior and that is chapter 18, verses 6-23. As we are looking at these passages that address homosexual behavior, it is important for us, also, to understand that most of the passages in the Bible that address homosexual behavior don’t laser target it. Homosexual behavior becomes part of a list of behaviors, it is part of a list of behaviors that God would say would be wrong or would be outside of His will.

I just want us to understand what is happening in the book of Leviticus, right here. Remember the historical events, Israel had been in Egypt and God had led them out of Egypt and now He was leading them to the land of Canaan. But, the land of Canaan had some very unholy people in it. There was some sinful behavior in the land of Canaan, as they were getting ready to journey there, that God did not want them to imitate. And that is the thrust of this chapter.

Notice He says in verse 3, “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is in the land of Canaan being done, the land to which I am bringing you; don’t walk like they walk.” Don’t live like they live.

Look at verse 24 of chapter 18, “Do not defile yourselves (by any of these things that are going to be in this list) for by these things the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.”  I am judging them for these things, I don’t want you to be imitating that particular behavior. “For the land has become defiled and I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.”

Look at verse 27, “For the men of the land who have been before you have done all these things, so the land is defiled by the behavior that I see,” verse 30, “Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice these customs which have been practiced before you, don’t defile yourselves with them. I happen to be God.” And, this is what I am saying, this is what I am communicating.

Now, with that whole thought in mind about the context of the chapter, I want you to see, as He begins to make this list, look at verse 6, He says, “None of you are to approach any blood relative of his to uncover their nakedness.”  Now, that little phrase, which is a phrase the New American Standard uses, which is very literal by the way from the Hebrew, is a frequent euphemism in Hebrew for sexual intercourse. In fact, the New International Version, in these verses we are going to look at, translates it, you are not to have sexual relations with. The New Living Translation says, you are not to have sexual intercourse with.

Then, there is a whole listing of these cases. For example, verse 15, “You are not to uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law, she is your son’s wife,” you are not to have sexual intercourse with your daughter-in-law.

Verse 20, you are not to have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, that is out, that is not behavior I want to see, God is saying.

Verse 21, you are not to give any of your offspring to offer them (in child sacrifice) to Molech, that exists in the land. That is behavior you are to not do.

Verse 23, you are not to have intercourse (this is pretty graphic stuff) with any animal. Nor should any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. He says that is the kind of behavior I don’t want you to imitate, that is going on in the land, but don’t imitate all of that.

Right in the middle of this list we have verse 22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female.” That is just behavior, God says, I don’t want you to imitate.

Why does He cover all of this stuff in this chapter? Why is He talking about it? Because all of these things, all of these various things are threats to God’s design for the family that He clearly states in the book of Genesis.

There is a second passage, it is a twin passage to this. It is just a couple of pages over, in Leviticus, chapter 20, verse 10-16. I invite you to turn there. Again, what we have in chapter 20 is a list of behaviors. He says this is what is going on in the land where you are going in. I don’t want you to imitate those things. He mentions, actually, human sacrifice in the first five verses of chapter 20. He mentions consulting a medium or a spiritist, in verse 6, don’t do that. In verse 12, He is going to mention actual incest. He says don’t do that. In verse 14, He says don’t marry a woman and her mother and I am just thinking, I can’t imagine marrying my wife and her mother, but apparently some people were doing that, He says, don’t do that. In verses 15 and 16, don’t have sex with animals again, which must have been an incredibly gross behavior that was going on.

In the middle of all of that we have verse 13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.” That is behavior I don’t want imitated. Notice He says this in verse 23 of the chapter, “Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.”  Don’t fall into the same behavior patterns.

I want to make this point of emphasis. Homosexual behavior is just one of many sins that God says are outside of His will.

How do the revisionary interpretations interact with these passages? Let me give you a couple of illustrations. This is something that you might hear, ‘Well, you are in the book of Leviticus. Hey, we don’t have to follow all those Levitical laws. In Leviticus, like in chapter 19, verse 19, it says that you are not to wear garments of mixed fabrics.” Wow, I am wearing garment of mixed fabrics today. ‘We don’t pay attention to those laws in the book of Leviticus. For example, in chapter 11, verse 8, it says that if you touch the skin of a dead pig, you are unclean before Me. You think, man it is football season. How am I going to toss a football without being unclean? How does all that work out?’ Well, it is important to understand, in the book of Leviticus, some parts of the law were dietary and they were ceremonial and God built them in because He wanted to build some distinctions between Israel and the people in the land of Canaan. But, we are no longer under obligation to follow the dietary ceremonial law. We learn that from Colossians, chapter 2, verses 16 and 17. That was part of God’s plan for the nation of Israel.

But, there is still the moral law that is laid out in the book of Leviticus. What is interesting to me is, God never judged any nation because they wore mixed fabrics. That was part of His idea to keep them distinct, but that really wasn’t the moral part of His law. The moral standards of the law are transcendent and we are going to see they resurface in the New Testament as behavior that God says is out of My will.

Another revisionary interpretation goes something like this, ‘Well, yeah, this is some behavior that they weren’t supposed to do, but it was limited to behavior that was in the practice of idolatry or the male cult prostitution in the pagan temples. It doesn’t refer to all homosexual behavior, just homosexual behavior that is done in the name of idolatry. Then it is wrong.’ You know, it is interesting to look at these passages and I don’t see any limits stated anywhere. Not only that, but if you use consistent logic, homosexual behavior is only wrong if it is done in the arena of idolatry, then we would have to say that incest is only wrong if it is done in the arena of idolatry, or sex with animals is only wrong if it is done in the arena of idolatry. No, we wouldn’t go there. In fact, that is quite nonsensical.

You know what strikes me? Is how straightforward these verses are. Look at chapter 18 again, verse 22. “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female.” Now, that is pretty straightforward and plain.

Chapter 20, verse 13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act (in the eyes of God).”

Now, sometimes revisionists like to say, ‘Well, this is just talking about forcing someone else of the same sex to have sex with you.” But, it is interesting here that, when a man lies with a male, as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed something that is wrong before God.

Let’s go to the New Testament and we are going to look at the third pivotal passage. It is found in the book of Romans. You have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the book of Acts, then you have the book of Romans. We want to look at Romans, chapter 1, verses 21-32. I know we are covering a lot of data, but it is just something we have to do. Again, here, we have a list of behavior that God says in His eyes is rebellious behavior. We learn from these verses that part of what humanities problem is, is that there has been a failure to acknowledge Him as creator. We see that in verse 21. There has been a failure to show gratitude to God, there has been ingratitude to God. And all of that, in verse 24, has led to the point where God says He is going to now give humanity over to impurity. We even have a list of behaviors that appears again, and particularly I want you to notice verses 29-31. It is behavior that just bounces everywhere.

He says, this is the way I view humanity apart from Me being involved in their life. There is unrighteousness, there is wickedness, there is greed, there is evil. They are full of envy, there is murder, and then, all kinds of stuff. Strife, there is deceit, deceiving people. There is malice, there is gossip. There is slander, where you run someone down verbally. They are haters of God, they are insolent, they are arrogant, they are boastful, they are inventors of evil. They are disobedient to parents, they are without understanding, they are untrustworthy, they are unloving, they are unmerciful. All of these behaviors are behaviors that come from a failure, really, to acknowledge God as Creator.

Part of that list includes homosexual behavior, in verses 26 and 27. Now, I want to say this, before we look at those verses. Everyone in this room and everyone listening to this message is guilty of one or more of the attitudes and behaviors that are listed here, in our own life. Every single one of us. And, for the self-righteous, who say, ‘Oh, it is everybody else that has this problem but me,’ we have chapter 2, verse 1, when He says, He is making this argument, “You have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment on other people, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” We have all been tainted by this behavior that is outside of the will of God.

So, let’s look at verses 26 and 27. It says, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own person the due penalty of their error.”  

How did the revisionary interpretations come to bear with this particular passage? Here is one of the common ones; it says this, ‘What is really being described here by Paul,’ so they say, ‘is that you had heterosexual people, their natural inclination was to be heterosexual, and they were abandoning their natural inclination and they were doing what was unnatural for them, in that they were getting involved in homosexual behavior.’ They would say that what this is talking about is heterosexuals who are acting out homosexually and Paul goes, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t do that. Do what is natural to you.’ That is the way the argument tends to go.

To be frank with you, and I am trying to be transparent, that is rather convoluted to me. I can’t even believe that someone is trying to promote that understanding, because what is natural in this section is not how an individual feels, what is natural is God’s creative design. This whole argument in this section, it goes back to creation. In verse 20 he says, “Since the time of creation…” This has all been understood through what has been made and part of what was made was male and female and that is what marriage was to be.

In verse 19 he says it is evident, it is transparent. How can you really argue with it? Part of God’s creation was God’s design of marriage and male and female relationships in marriage. So, when he talks about in verse 27, “abandoning the natural function,” everybody, historically through most every culture, has understood, the natural function is male and female in marriage.

So, they “exchanged” this natural function is the description. I know this part is a little deep, but I want you to think about it for a moment. There is a thrust about human rebellion in Romans, chapter 1, that basically says this, ‘What humanity has done, they’ve made a mistake about is, they have exchanged that which is different from them, for sameness.’ In other words, humanity takes the Creator, who is very different from us and exchanges the Creator for sameness, created things. God is very different from us and in our human rebellion what we do is, we exchange God for something that is the same, which is self.

What women are doing, that he is talking about here, is they take something that is different from them, that would men, and they exchange men for sameness, other women. Men take women, who are different from them and they exchange the different for sameness, which would be other men. And, all that Paul’s arguing is, that is just a violation of God’s standard.

Again, revisionary interpretation comes along and says, ‘Well, this is only restricting coercive gay relationships and homosexual behavior, when you would maybe take a male slave, if you were male, and you would force them to have sex with you.’ What they would say is, that long-term committed gay relationships are perfectly fine. In fact, what they often will say is, ‘Only in our day have we really known, long-term committed gay relationships. Paul didn’t know anything about them. Paul wasn’t aware in his day, way back in those ancient times that you could have a loving, long-term gay, homosexual relationship.’ That is the way part of the argument goes.

You say, ‘Bruce, how do you respond to that claim?’ Well, I grew up in the 60’s and if you grew up in the 60’s then you know that in the 60’s when we grew up, we thought that we were the cat’s pajamas [slang used to describe someone who is the best at what they do]. We thought we were the generation that got it all together. We really knew what needed to happen in the society. We were the most enlightened generation that had ever been on the face of the planet. By the way, every generation has a tendency in that direction. I’ve been around long enough to watch some generations come behind me and generations tend to be arrogant. We tend to think, ‘I’m the most enlightened generation that we’ve ever been.’ That is coming through here a little bit. ‘Only in our time have we ever heard about long-term committed gay relationships. No one has ever heard of that before.’

That is just not true. It doesn’t stack up historically. In Paul’s time they very publicly knew about long-running homosexual relationships in their society. They had a form of semi-official marriage that went on in their society in Paul’s day between men and men and women and women.

Plato, in the 400’s B.C., talked about how in the Greek world they knew about homosexuals who were wedded all of their days. This is not a unique thing, just in our time.

Josephus, the historian, who was a contemporary of Paul, summarized the understanding of the day in this way, ‘The law of Moses recognizes only sexual intercourse that is according to nature, that which is with a woman and it eliminates or abhors the intercourse of males with males.’ So, this is not a unique thing that we only know about today.

Now, I go through all of that, and I want to make this very, very clear, the Bible is not fixated on homosexuality. But, when it addresses it, it is clear. I also want to say that homosexuality is just one arena of sexual brokenness. I hope you pick this up in all of these lists, that all sexual immorality, in whatever flavor, grieves the heart of God and homosexuality is just one area, one arena. In fact, we’ve been confessing a lot so far in this series. The heterosexual community, in terms of volume, has done far more to distort God’s design of marriage than the homosexual community would ever do. Through our sexual lust, through our unfaithfulness, through our abuse in marriage and family, through divorce, men and women, we are guilty and we must repent of those things.

As we seek to be a church of grace and truth, and as we seek to reach out and communicate hope to those with same-sex attraction, there is something important I think we need to understand. We are going to look at this quickly and then we are going to be closing in a few minutes. That is, there are four stages of same-sex experience. Remember, we talked about there being a spectrum of the homosexual movement and we need to not lump everybody together. There are four stages of same-sex experience.

The first stage is that of attraction. This is where there may be gender identity issues, but same-sex attraction feelings. It is very important that we understand there is a difference between same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual activity. There is a difference between proclivity towards the same sex and the practice of same sex acts. I happen to be attracted to women. I am married, but that is not sin, that I am attracted to women, unless I act on that or I entertain mental lust. I just want you to know that I have had personal friends, I have had people in my office over on the other side of that wall, who are right in this stage of same-sex experience. They have attraction, they have thoughts and attractions in this area. I just want everybody to understand that thoughts and attractions, by themselves do not make somebody gay. For many people, they say, ‘It is not a choice, I wish I wasn’t like this.’ Maybe they try to deny it or repress it or pray it away. That is the first stage.

The second stage of same-sex experience is behavior. We get to behavior when we act on the same-sex attractions. When we commit a homosexual act.

The third stage of same-sex experience is identity. This is where someone makes the step and says, ‘This is what I am. I want to identify myself as a gay person, or a lesbian person, or a transgender person. This is what I am at, I am going to accept it. This is what is right for me.’

Then, the fourth stage of same-sex experience would be life-style. This is where there is a regular practice of homosexual behavior in a person’s life.

I have known people at all of those stages. I have had friends at all of those stages. I have known people who have found victory from all of those stages. Again, we want to convey grace and hope. Please understand homosexuality, just one of the list of sins that God lays out, it is not an unpardonable sin. We are all sexual beings and God created that dimension in life and in humanity and frequently we all distort it. We are all sinners. We are all vulnerable. We all battle the world of the flesh and the devil. We’ve all been born, as the Bible describes, with what could be called total depravity, meaning that every dimension of my life has been tainted by sinfulness. Sexual sins are bad sins, but they are not the worst sins. Pride is the most damaging sin of all.

So, there are a lot of things we haven’t addressed yet. We have a lot of issues we have yet to address. Things like:

Isn’t homosexuality inborn?

Isn’t it unchangeable?

We are going to see, I believe, that predisposition is not predestination. We even want to address the question:

Is this really important? Can’t we just let people get married how they want to get married? Is it really important? Are there really no perils downstream?

We are going to find out and talk a little bit about that. We are going to also talk about how we respond. I have a friend, I have a loved one, I have people in my family, what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say? Where can I find resources? We are going to deal with all of that next week.

I do want to share with you, as we close today, then we are going to sing a closing song, an email that is found in Peter Hubbard’s book, Love Into Light. It comes from a young lady in his church who was experiencing same-sex attraction. This is what she writes, this is very touching.

“I have been struggling with it my entire life. For the longest time, I denied it to myself and certainly did not want to come clean to anyone about it. Several months ago I admitted my struggle to some family and close friends. I have been trying to be wise in who I tell because I don’t know who will criticize me or who will try to help. It is hard. It is looked down upon so badly, which I guess is fair because it is an unnatural thing, but it really stinks because I need help. I need people who will be behind me, supporting me with godly counsel so that I can make it out of this mess. I have only been a true believer for a little over a year now, so I am just beginning my walk with the Lord. I just want to encourage you (speaking to the church) to go for it. There is such a need in this area, because people in the church don’t know how to deal with this issue. Homosexuality is just not talked about in church so it made me think I was the only one struggling through this. This is a horrible place to be, thinking you are the only one. Please help my other brothers and sisters, who may be struggling with some of the same things. Jesus has saved my soul and taken my burdens away. I have peace and contentment in Christ. They need to know they, too, can have this. And the way they can know this is through the body of Christ.’

Anyone who is struggling with same-sex attractions, I just want you to know, you don’t have to be gay. Jesus Christ cares for you the same way He cares for me.

I am going to ask the Worship Team to come on up and as they are coming up, I just want to, again, make this statement. I have been making this over and over again, we all need to have a lot of humility, because every single one of us is needy. I need God’s grace and mercy. And, you need God’s grace and mercy. Jesus is my only hope for being delivered from myself and being delivered from future judgment and He is your only help.

We are going to sing these words,

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more

Where grace is found, is where You are, God. Let pray very briefly, then we’ll sing those closing words. Father, we just thank You that You are great, that You love us even with all of our blemishes. And, we thank You that our hope, our only hope, is found in the person of Jesus, and we pray these things in His name. Amen

Questions for Reflection on this message

“Current” Series, Part 2

List some of the ways you have witnessed  “surges” in the same sex current within our culture.

When it comes to defining marriage how important are the Genesis (1:27-28; 2:18, 21-25) and Matthew (19:4-6) passages?  Does a culture have a right to unilaterally redefine marriage?  What potential peril could there be in doing so?

We mentioned God’s 3-fold purpose of marriage:

–Mirror God’s image          –Mutually complete one another

–Multiple a Godly legacy

How do those purposes apply to today’s same sex culture?

Many passages that address homosexual behavior include it in a list of behaviors.  Why is that?  What is the significance?

What would you say is the best understanding of the terms “natural ” and “unnatural” (or “contrary to nature” as some translations express it) in Romans 1:26-27?

“All sexual immorality grieves God.”  List some of some of the things over which the heterosexual Christian community needs to repent.

How can understanding the four stages of same sex experience help us to understand and even extend help to those who deal with same-sex issues in their life?

         1. Attraction      2. Behavior        3. Identity          4. Lifestyle

When do same sex experiences become sin?

If someone were to share with you that they struggled with same sex attractions how would you respond?

Spend some time praying about your own heart.

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