God's Opposition to Homosexuality Part 1
By Robert Schaeffer
Deceived individuals in our society are busily attempting to remove all prohibitions against homosexual behavior, fantasy and identity. Even within the church we hear calls for reversing the long-standing condemnation against homosexuality. More than one counselee in the throes of the emotional work to find freedom has yearned for God to permit homosexuality so there would be no need to resist the desires of the flesh. Yet the Word of God speaks with clarity and unity against homosexual practice and desire. The Lord God makes it abundantly clear that all things homosexual are an abomination to him--detestable, disgusting, loathsome, and utterly repugnant (cf. Lev. 18:22). His opposition to homosexuality is firm and will never change. We try in vain to sanction before the Lord any homosexual act or relationship.
God has revealed in sacred Scripture as well as the testimony of nature and even pagan wisdom reasons for His settled opposition to homosexuality. In this series of articles I will delineate God’s opposition to homosexuality as a degradation of the human body, an obvious form of idolatry, the object of evil desire and the counterfeit for true intimacy. We begin with a look at the Almighty’s design for our bodies.
Homosexuality as Contrary to Nature
The starting point in Scripture for a discussion of human sexuality is the Creation story found in Genesis 1-3. While these texts do not address homosexuality directly, they do supply us with an understanding of God’s grand purpose for creating humans “male and female”. According to the Genesis account human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation and are given the unique mandate to subdue the earth and rule it (Gen. 1:28b; cf. Psalm 8:5-8). In order to accomplish this, humans would have to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:28a). In order to produce offspring, man and woman need the necessary unique physical organs to produce offspring. This possibility, according to God’s creative purpose, is due to a difference in the sexual design of man and woman. One person alone would not be able to sire children. Man needs woman to fulfill God’s noble purpose: man creates and plants the seed (sperm) inside the woman (womb) to fertilize the egg. The sex or gender of an individual reflects the Creator’s placement of that person in this procreative endeavor.
Godly offspring are the product of a male and female union. This union is to be conducted in the bounds of marriage (Gen. 2:24), and is a reflection and tangible sign to the world of God planting His imperishable Seed in us through the Word which produces a new creation (1 Peter 1:23). It is the sacred symbolism that Satan wishes to defile through tempting man to place the seed of life in the waste canal of the body.
From the beginning God made it clear that the procreation of children is to be done within the borders of a stable family situation rather than as a result of a detached sexual encounter.
In addition to the procreative nature of maleness and femaleness, the complementarity of human genders provides for a degree of mutual pleasure which homosexuality can never duplicate. In his definitive work The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon Press, 2001), Robert A. J. Gagnon writes:
Apart from Scripture, the clearest indications as to God’s design for human sexuality come from the anatomical fit and functional capacity of male and female sex organs. On the one hand, there is an obvious and “natural” fittedness of the male penis and the female vagina. This fittedness is confirmed not only by the dimensions of the two organs but also by the tissue environment of the vagina (its relative sturdiness against rupture and its cleanliness when compared to the rectal environment), the capacity of both penis and vagina for mutual sexual stimulation (penial glands and the clitoris), and their capacity for procreation. Neither the male anal cavity (the orifice for expelling excrement) nor the mouth (the orifice for taking in food) are likely candidates for what God intended as a receptacle for the male penis. (p. 181)
In homosexual sex, the physical organs are identical and therefore non-complementary; the “pleasure” derived is the result of a perverted attempt to fit together that which can never complete or stimulate as the Creator intended. In his Laws Plato wrote, "When male unites with female for procreation, the pleasure experienced is held to be in accordance with nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female." (Gagnon, 164-5)
In addition to procreation, the complementarity of the sexes is intended to serve another purpose: to create a bond of oneness between marital partners. By joining in sexual union, man and woman form a deep spiritual, relational and physical oneness that is necessary for a blessed lifelong relationship in marriage. This bond even takes precedence over the relationship with the parents who gave them life! It is interesting to note that when God designed the institution of marriage, He insured that the marriage partners would be different rather than identical. Adam’s helpmate could not be one of the animals or fish or birds he had named, nor could it be another man like himself. The only creature capable of helping him in the manner in which God ordained would be similar in origin (“bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”, Gen. 2:23) yet different in design. This difference does not preclude unity but rather enables it. Adam did not retreat disappointedly from Eve but rather embraced her gratefully as the partner he required.
Had God, seeing that Adam’s solitary state was not good (Gen. 2:18), designed another male, Adam would still have been incomplete, in a sense, “alone”. It is a tragedy to think that homosexual partners, bearing an identical sex, can ever complete one another. A passive homosexual partner, taking the part and position of an opposite-sex person, is a sorry substitute for the true soulmate and partner the Father intends. If God wished to validate and sanctify homosexual unions He would have portrayed a creation story of a proto-homosexual couple. In other words, we would expect to find a similar story of God’s creation of the first homosexual couple, just as we find the story of God’s creation of the first heterosexual couple. Yet there is no such story. This is a glaring omission in the Biblical record which some vainly use to justify homosexual union. God’s opinion is crystal clear: to unite with a homosexual partner is to exchange natural relations for unnatural ones (Rom. 1:26-27), and to commit perversity. Even some ancient pagans reasoned that to do so brought a particular dishonor on the relationship, and especially on the passive partner. In his Dialogue on Love Plutarch comments:
But the union with males, either unwillingly with force and plunder, or willingly with weakness and effeminacy, surrendering themselves, as Plato says, “to be mounted in the custom of four-footed animals and to be sowed with seed contrary to nature”—this is an entirely ill-favored favor, shameful and contrary to Aphrodite. (Gagnon, 170)
In his work Whether Beasts are Rational Plutarch conjectured that even the animals are aware of an innate heterosexual design for sexual union:
Until now the desires of animals have involved intercourse neither of male with male nor of female with female…even men themselves acknowledge that beasts have a better claim to temperance and the non-violation of nature in their pleasures. (Gagnon, 179)
The entire corpus of Jewish laws is in agreement that homosexual acts between same-sex partners of any age and under any circumstance were reprehensible, offending God and bringing shame on the perpetrators. Philo, a first-century Jew, commented on the sin of the men of Sodom:
For not only in being madly desirous of women were they destroying marriages of others but also, although they were men, [they began] mounting males, the doers [i.e. active partners] not standing in awe of the nature held in common with those who had it done to them [passive partners]…Then, little by little, by accustoming those who had been born men to put up with feminine things, they equipped them with a female disease—an evil that is hard to fight against—not only feminizing their bodies with softness and disintegration but also bringing their work to completion by making their very souls degenerate. (Gagnon, 172).
Thus, with such a unanimous consensus regarding the nature of male and female gender and corresponding roles, it is unthinkable that Christ’s silence on the subject of homosexuality is to be taken as an approval of its practice. There simply are no existing Jewish or Christian texts from the Old or New Testament periods that display any approval for homosexuality! Gagnon notes:
The notion that first century Jews, such as Jesus and Paul, would have given general approval to a homosexual lifestyle if they had only been shown adequate examples of mutually caring and non-exploitative same-sex relationships is fantastic. More or different information about same-sex intercourse would not have changed the verdict for any first-century Jew because the anatomical, sexual, and procreative complementarity of male and female unions, in contrast with those between female and female or male and male, would have remained indisputable. (p.182)
For Jesus to teach that homosexual practice is acceptable to God, He would have to overturn centuries of accepted revelation, philosophy and legislation. On the contrary, He came to fulfill rather than to overturn the Law (Mt. 5:17). More specifically, Jesus affirmed the Father’s design for heterosexual marriage as the sole context for sexual union, adding the injunction “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mt. 19:6).
While the Genesis account of creation may not be a normative model for every human being (i.e., some are called to singleness and celibacy), it is normative for those who wish to know sexual intimacy and produce godly offspring. Only within the bounds of heterosexual marriage can the purpose for sexuality be fully realized and released. Our bodies bear the indelible mark of God’s design and purpose for creation, Those not yet married or not intending to be married must dedicate their bodies to righteousness rather than obey the dictates of the sinful flesh (Titus 2:11ff). A single man or woman is free to form friendships with the opposite sex and to share in the joys of relating as God’s new creation. (It is very important to work through your issues and be free of homosexual dysfunction before deciding if you are called to singleness and celibacy.)
All humans are to remember that they are not primarily sexual beings but rather spiritual beings living in a body with a sexual dimension. Procreation and oneness are universally recognized as functions of sexuality. In order to faithfully exercise the divine purpose for human sexuality, our spirit, mind, flesh and will must submit to the Spirit of God. Only in obedience to His will can we know true sexual fulfillment, mutual joy and freedom from the sin of exchanging the natural for the unnatural.