God's Opposition to Homosexuality Part 2
By Robert Schaeffer
In the part one of this article we stressed that God did not design the human body for homosexual union. Sexual intimacy as an expression of genuine romantic love is only to be known and shared in the heterosexual union of husband and wife. It is a gift our Creator gives to a man and a woman who join together in the covenant of marriage. The Bible identifies homosexuality along with fornication, adultery, rape, incest, prostitution, bestiality, looking on another’s nakedness and lust as sinful and commands the people of God to abstain from them. Homosexual practice is especially repulsive to the Lord: He considers it detestable (cf. Lev. 18:22). The body was not intended for this form of immorality but for holy use unto the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 6:13)! No matter how pleasurable or fulfilling homosexuality might feel, it is a gross perversion of God’s physical design for sexual union.
In part two we examine God’s opposition to homosexuality as to the spiritual perversion of idolatry.
Homosexuality as Idolatry
The Old Testament speaks with one voice in condemning homosexual practice. For centuries, Jewish rabbis and scholars held to this teaching, occasionally expanding upon but never dissenting from it. At the time of Christ, no reputable authority in Israel (including Jesus Himself) spoke in defense of homosexual practice. St. Paul, an expert in the Law, buttressed the Old Testament prohibition against such practice by revealing the essence of homosexuality as idolatry. God’s wrath, he wrote in Romans 1, is being revealed against all godlessness and wickedness (v. 18a) and an infamous example of this wickedness is homosexuality (including lesbianism). Those who practice it are actually suppressing the truth by their wickedness (vs. 18b), refusing to glorify God and give Him thanks (vs. 21) even though they have knowledge of His indisputable qualities (vss. 19-20). In refusing to know God their minds became darkened (vs. 21) and they turned to the worship of creatures and people (vss. 23,25). This exchange of the true God for images and people is idolatry. It elevates a rival over the sovereign God. It places on the throne of the heart a substitue for Jehovah, the one true and living Lord of lords. In practice, idolatry is the reliance upon something or someone other than the living God in times of trouble or peace, pain or pleasure. Idolatry makes some lesser person, item or experience a spiritual, emotional, intellectual refuge. It cherishes something or someone over the Lord. In so doing, it continues a grievous assumption or argument that the Lord is not deserving of worship as Lord of one’s life. More than any other practice, idolatry offends and insults God by declaring Him unworthy as sovereign, provider, redeemer and king.
Not surprisingly, idolatry is a grievous sin that carries with it the severest of punishments. The prohibition against idolatry stands as the First Commandment in the Decalogue (Ex. 20:2-3). God, the Creator of all living things, is insistent that His creatures should worship Him alone, promising to visit punishment on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who make other gods before Him (Ex. 20:5a). He considers their worship of other gods as hatred toward Him (Ex. 20:5b), as shamelessly prostituting themselves before other lovers (Ezek. 16:36) and as commiting adultery against a faithful husband (Ezek. 16:38). His wrath is kindled against those who justify such spiritual fornication rather than heed His call to repent, at one point promising plague and famine so horrific that fathers would eat their own children and children eat their own fathers (Ezek. 5:9-10)! St. Paul warns that God’s punishment for homosexuality may take a form more terrible than this: a turning of persons over to revel in the sex they crave (Rom. 1:24,26) and they will even give approval to others who do the same (vs. 32). As the children of Israel fashioned and worshipped a golden calf with apparent license, so the unrepentant person with homosexual cravings pursues and wallows in perversity. And yet, this license is no sign of God’s approval or blessing but the first installment of His awful judgment against idolatry of the heart.
The practice of idolatry inevitably leads to sexual perversion. Notice how spiritual adultery against the Lord invariably gives license to sexual deviance:
“Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness.” (Isa. 57:7)
When Israel went astray after other gods, it added sexual lewdness and filthiness to its sin of idolatry (Ezek. 16:44), commiting sexual abominations more vile than Sodom and Samaria (Ezek. 16:51,52). St. Paul stated that chief among the sins of the Gentiles was their insatiable lust for every kind of sensual immorality (Eph. 4:19). Their insensitivity to God’s decrees resulted from a hardening of their heart to Him (Eph. 4:18). Similarly, Romans 1 describes the “shameful lusts” of those who forsake intimacy with God craving instead “sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies” (vs. 24) and the exchange of “natural [sexual] relations for unnatural ones” (vs. 26). A downward progression toward more and more indecent sexual practices directly follows spiritual idolatry. The darkened mind casts off restraint and indulges in the sinful desires of the flesh. The result of this lasciviousness is a turning of the heart away from the Lord. St. Paul called those who go wantonly and rebelliously after the pleasures of the flesh “God-haters” (vs. 30).
Homosexuality as a form of idolatry is rooted in an ungodly reaction to pain. This pain generally is experienced in the early years of life (usually before the age of ten) and causes serious emotional upset in the child. The source of the pain can be an isolated event (such as nervous breakdown in the family or divorce) or a chronic condition (such as abuse by peers or severe, unrelenting punishment at home). It can be traumatic (such as the death of a loved one) or seemingly benign (such as the lack of praise or affirmation). It can be generated by others (such as through name-calling or molestation) or within the mind of the individual (such as believing he/she is not pleasing to a parent). It can range in intensity from subdued (such as puzzlement or confusion) to enflamed (such as rage or dread).
Whatever the source, this pain demands attention; it doesn’t go away by itself. The hurting child is drawn into thinking again and again how to make it stop. If the child deals with this pain in a godly way (such as talking to a parent or loved one, praying for God’s help, drawing close to a godly mentor, returning good for evil), Satan will be unable to take ground in his/her heart and mind. But if the child deals with the pain in an ungodly way (such as keeping the pain inside, plotting revenge, harboring hatred, cursing, running away) and finds no healthy solution to the problem, Satan is given an open door to enter his/her heart and mind. Once he enters in, Satan is no idle guest but sets about to convince the hurting, isolated child that certain bad practices will make the pain go away. This is the beginning of the devil’s attempt to erect a stronghold from which he can influence the child’s will and tempt him/her to choose sin over righteousness. It is his calculated attempt to convince the child that homosexuality is the one thing they can rely on to make all of life’s pain and problems go away. If the child joins in with Satan’s lies and practices homosexual sin, he/she will come to cherish it or to give up trying to resist the temptation when it appears.
Over time, the homosexual activity becomes an idol. Fantasy/masturbation, pornography, sexual contact with another or others produce powerful sensual pleasures (especially if they are accompanied with assuring, complimentary words) that appear to bring a sense of relief, safety, affirmation, release or love. This “rush” of emotion and physical pleasure becomes a narcotic or “fix” which the child seeks to repeat again and again in times of pain or trouble. The sexual activity or relationship assumes a place of central importance in coping with reality. Without it, the hurting person feels shaky and insecure, unable to function in the face of difficulty or seemingly overwhelming challenges. The child may have tried to cry out to God in the past but felt that He is not interested or is against the child. Situations of chronic pain can erode a hurting child’s sense of God’s goodness or power. Abuse at the hands of Christian people deadens a child’s sense of trust in God as well as in His people. Having a strained or broken relationship with God, the child turns away from Him to practice the unhealthy, destructive behavior that seems to do what God cannot or will not. In turning away, the person is actually forsaking the One who is a very present help in time of trouble (Ps. 46:1) for a false god. The more the person practices the sexual behavior, the stronger the idolatry becomes. I takes on the quality of a taskmaster, seemingly irresistible in its power to draw the person into sexual sin. Even though it is an idol and false god, Satan’s power is in it and oppresses those who pursue and worship it.
The person in this state compromises truth and godly principles, often going to great lengths to justify perversity. These justifications prevent the person from seeing the sinfulness of his/her desires and choices. Any voice or word that challenges this pursuit of homosexual relationship or activity will seem to be the problem. The mind given over to the pursuit of evil will resist truth; the will that chooses evil will grow increasingly weak and demonized. Eventually, the false idol of twisted sex becomes the plumb line against which all attempts to deal with life are measured. Compared to this emotionally intense experience, God’s ways for dealing with pain seem distasteful, prone to failure, irritating, questionable and even frustrating. As a child, he/she pulled into him/herself, not trusting others and cut off from authority. Consequently, as an adult he/she is self-referencing, shut down to the Almighty’s counsel, unwilling to receive the Lord’s words as ultimate authority. Inevitably, the person who worships an idol becomes like it: numb, cold, hard, false, devoid of true spiritual power. Those who teach that homosexuality is good are likewise deceived, peddling a false gospel of sensuality and rebellion. To justify homosexuality is to heap sin upon sin in the ledger of Him who will be displaced by no idol of man’s making. Thus, when God gives a person over to the perverse cravings of the flesh, He is in a sense giving the idolatrous person what their hardened heart desires—life without God’s rules and judgement. However, such “freedom” is actually bondage. In the end, if the person refuses to return to God, he/she will die a deceived servant of the kingdom of Satan, facing eternal exclusion from the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
What is the only sensible response to this spiritual reality? Repentance: the renunciation of homosexuality as good and a return to the One who is the only wise God! Tear down the monuments to pain you have erected over the years to your pain and suffering. Give up the justifications, no matter how right they seem, for practicing sexual sin. Rather than run to a “fix” when you are in pain, take your emotions and issues to the Lord. Work through your problems by seeking a righteous response. Only then can you be free from bondage and enjoy life serving the true God whom to know aright is life itself! If you have questions for God, or if you have a case against Him, don’t run away. Put away the idols from your heart and you will make a place for the sweet Word of God that will become health to your bones. God understands the work required to break free from the physical, emotional and spiritual bondage of idolatry. He is merciful to forgive sexual lapses along the pursuit of freedom. He will definitely not cast out those who have a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17) and admit their sin. If you renounce homosexuality in your heart and begin to work against the pursuit of fleshly cravings, God will be faithful to break the power of the devil in your emotions, mind, will, flesh and spirit. His Spirit will be released in an awesome way to redeem the temple of your body that is rightly His. There is complete forgiveness, restoration and consecration to God’s service for anyone who puts away idols (1 Cor. 6:9-11)!
King Asa of Judah stands as an example of a man who early in his reign did what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord. He put away the detestable idols then popular in the land and tore down the high places of pagan worship, and he commanded his people to worship the God of their fathers (1 Chron. 14:2-5). He practiced a godly response to problems: when attacked by foreign enemies, he went to the Lord in faith believing that God is good and will help those who seek Him, especially the powerless (1 Chron. 14:11). God indeed fought for Asa and gave the whole land peace and rest. Asa heeded the words spoken to him by Azariah who, under the power of the Spirit of God, said,
The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him, and He was found by them. (1 Chron. 15:2-4)
Forsake the idol of homosexuality and seek the Lord and you will find Him, a Father eager to forgive, a Friend willing to help and a King gracious to restore. He will destroy the devil’s grip on your life so that you can choose to follow God’s counsel and statutes. He will run to meet you in your time of need. The Lord will establish a true altar of worship in your heart on which you will offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving that are acceptable to Him. He will be to you a source of eternal life and freedom, filling you with true joy as no idol ever could!