TAKING AWAY HOPE

The pro-gay position among Christians effectively deprives the homosexual of hope. These persons may be attempting to reach out in love to the gay community as an act of faith. But to say that a gay person is born that way and therefore can not help but be homosexual takes away hope. And if the pro-gay faction in the churches then expand the genetic argument and insist that homosexual behavior is natural and normal (certain diseases can also be inborn or genetic in nature), both psychologically and sociologically, this further condemns a person to what many gay people will admit is a miserable life. And it also condemns this person to a dreadful eternity as well.

A Frightening Passage

The passage I am about to quote is one that is feared, even hated, by pro-gay 'Christians'. It is a passage that has been vigorously attacked by pro-gay Bible commentators because of its powerful message. But it is a passage that is simple and clear in its meaning, and yet, in my view, holds out a great deal of hope for the homosexual. The first part of the passage is:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9-10

My intent is not to 'clobber' anyone with the Bible. And I do not want to scare anyone either--I want to present the hope that we all sinners in the Christ.

An Examination of the Passage

'Homosexual offenders' is a translation of the Greek word arsenokoite, a word that Paul made up (Paul made up or coined about 170 words that we find in his New Testament letters). The word he used is a combination of arsenos meaning 'male', and koite meaning 'bed' or 'couch'. Paul found these words in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. The Levitical verses forbid and condemn homosexuality. Paul put the two words together because he wanted to describe men who had sex together. It is not homosexual prostitution or violent homosexual rape that the Law of Moses is concerned with as is so often presented by pro-gay writers. No, the language is clear and straightforward--homosexual offenders, or those who practice homosexuality, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Homosexual behavior is not the only sinful behavior mentioned in the Corinthian passage. There is quite a long list and I find some of my own sins there, too. There are the heterosexuals who are immoral and adulterers who have sex outside of marriage with someone other than their spouse. There are those who worship gods who are no gods at all. There are thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers listed--I find myself here many times. I have broken God's holy ordinance and therefore, barring a miracle, I will not inherit the kingdom of God. If God's Word is true, I am in desperate trouble.

Am I Without Hope?

Since I find my sin(s) plainly listed in the passage, am I then without hope? In one sense I have no hope for I can not do anything about changing what has already happened, and, to make matters worse, I can not be assured that I will not sin again sometime in the future. Though I do not want to sin and dishonor my Lord, but because sin dwells within me, I likely will sin again (John tells me I will in 1 John 1:8-2:1-2). Yet I am not without hope, in fact, I am most hopeful. I know for a fact that Jesus has died in my place on the cross; I know He has taken all my sin upon Himself, and that I can be forgiven, trusting in Jesus as the Holy Spirit enables me. Certainly I can do nothing, but this Jesus, risen from the dead, has already done what I can not do. Indeed, He gives me His righteousness, gives it to me though I do not deserve it at all. This is the good news, the gospel.

The Proof of Hope

Earlier I quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. But I stopped short of the real point Paul was making to the believers in Corinth. We need now to look at verse 11 for in it is the proof of our hope.

And that is what some of your were. 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.

In that Corinthian church were people like me--guilty of many sins, addicted to some, helplessly in the control of others. Yet, something happened to them and Paul used three words to describe what happened to them--washed, sanctified, and justified.

Washed is forgiveness, a work of the Holy Spirit. This is the application of the blood Jesus shed on the cross to the sinner. With the shedding of blood there is the forgiveness of sin even sin like my own, sin like homosexual behavior, too. I can not forgive my own sin neither can a church or a priest or a minister or anyone or anything else forgive sin, no, only Jesus' blood can wash away sin. Did Jesus die on the cross and shed His blood to then withhold it from those who seek Him? Not at all, remember Jesus is the one who came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And the washing, the cleansing, of the blood of Jesus actually brings us to a place or repentance. Washed, clean, forgiven, this is more wonderful than anything can ever be.

Sanctified then is to be set aside as belonging to Jesus Himself. It is the result of the washing--forgiven and cleansed of sin we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The sanctified are embraced by the Father and adopted into His own Family. God's Holy Spirit actually lives within us because that which prevented His doing so was overcome when our sins were forgiven. It is completely the work of God. He sets us aside, makes us holy, and begins to work within us both to will and to work for His good pleasure--which takes a whole lifetime.

Justified might well have been mentioned first, or second, because it is the experience of conversion or the new birth. It happens as we are washed and sanctified. Where one begins and the other ends we do not know. There is a mystery to it all, though it is very real at the same time. Justified might be defined as the sinner being restored to a condition of purity, as though no sin had ever been committed. It is by faith, it is grace. It is all a gift. Faith is a gift, we really have none of it in ourselves rather it is given to us. This is what we mean by grace--forgiveness and eternal life freely given despite the fact that we are unworthy. This is illustrated for us in the words, new birth. We did not affect our own physical birth and so we can not affect our spiritual birth. It is all a gift of God, not based on any kind or manner of work.

Giving Back Hope

Those who have bought into the notion that they were born homosexual and that it is their very nature to be homosexual may find hope in the words of Paul and in the experience of some of the Christians in the church at Corinth. There were homosexuals there, and they had turned away from homosexual behavior though they might not have become heterosexuals (some today at any rate experience a change in their sexual orientation but others do not so it is not unreasonable to state that such might have been the case in Corinth).

A Special Appeal

To those who have loved ones who are gay, perhaps a son or daughter, don't take away their hope by agreeing that they can not help but engage in homosexual activity.

There is a powerful tendency to overlook what the Scripture teaches and adopt a pro-gay stance thinking we are standing with, supporting our gay loved ones. Many do this. It is, in the long run, better to love the person, be supportive in whatever means possible, all the while refusing to validate the sinful behavior. This 'tough-love' may well prove to be both hopeful and redemptive.

Words of Hope

The pro-gay movement unwittingly takes away hope but the promise of the Scripture gives it back. And these grand words of Paul provide for us a most fitting close to this essay:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Kent Philpott
February 2000

 

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