I remember when I first attempted to read the entire Bible, starting in the Old Testament. It took me several failed attempts just to make it past the “begots”. But eventually I did and I was feeling pretty darned good about myself until I realized there were other major hurtles within the first few books that I simply did not know how to cross.
I went in looking for warm and fuzzies. I went in looking for love and miracles. But truly, in my absolute ignorance of the Word at that time, I was totally caught off guard by the hard stuff. You know what I’m talking about… the wrath. The judgment. The suffering and sacrifice. It not only confused this sheltered farm girl who was literally unable to watch (the tv show) ER without getting stressed, but it also physically turned my stomach.
Y’all, I’m here to tell you… I closed that glorious book so fast it would have made your head spin and I didn’t come back around to it for decades. Why? It was because I, like so many others out there I’m sure, didn’t understand the bigger picture. Nor did I understand the reality of how destructive sin really is… including my own.
Truth be told, as tragically comical as it is to me now, I didn’t even see myself as a sinner at all at that time in my life, although, I was super-guilty of the vast majority of them. So surely, the concepts of a “sin offering” and “slain lamb” were certain to blow my sweet little oblivious mind.
All that to say, I think every Christian remembers the moment when the truth of our own stinking, destructive and even yes, abominable, sin sinks in… and we finally accept our guilt, falling at the feet of God, aware and deeply sorry. That kind of realization doesn’t come easy or overnight. But it is governed by God, the only One who knows when we are mature enough to fully handle it.
That said, when we as Christians try to force repentance and righteousness on the guilty, whether they be gays or, more commonly, the prideful or ungrateful… it simply doesn’t work. Because only God’s timing is perfect, as is His patience and conviction.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:8-9
What Does the Bible Say About Sin?
In the beginning, the Bible tells us man sinned against God. And the Bible clearly defines homosexuality as a sin. But what is it, really? And what does it mean for us today?
In Greek, the word sin could better be translated as ‘to miss the mark’ of God’s perfection, or to 'fall short'. But friends, the Bible not only uses this word as an action verb (something that we do). It also uses it as an adjective that describes the fallen nature of mankind’s spirit (inherently sinful), and also as a noun that defines who we became in the garden the moment Adam and Eve defiantly rebelled against God so that they might be more like Him, knowing both good and evil (of flesh).
The Bible says that man and womankind were created in His image, and God put everything within the garden under their rule except for one thing… the fruit that grew from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Lets think about this truth for a minute. Why would a God who had just essentially exalted man as king, by creating a perfect palace for him to live in and rule over forever, have placed within that garden anything forbidden? It’s because the presence of that tree was the one thing that separated God from man. It was the one thing that established His ultimate authority. By honoring God’s command not to eat from the tree, what Adam and Eve were saying was that we believe You are our God and we accept that we are under Your loving authority.
The forbidden fruit not only established Adam and Eve’s relationship with God and placed them under His authority, but it also protected them. You see, evil already existed as is evidenced by the words “knowledge of” and the presence of a serpent who deceitfully presented Eve with the truth that she actually had a choice (to obey God or not).
In choosing obedience Adam and Eve would have rested securely under God’s umbrella of protection forever. However, in choosing rebellion against God, essentially establishing themselves as a fellow “God of their own lives”, they forced themselves out in the rain, detached from Him and unprotected. With one bite they fell from the grace of God and found themselves in the middle of a spiritual war that was raging all around them that they were completely unaware of while they enjoyed the peace and joy that is life with God (in the Garden). But once they opted-in to this battle, without an ounce of power to fight evil forces on their own, they became naked, exposed and vulnerable to an enemy that was (and still is) hell-bent on killing, stealing, and destroying them (and us today).
What Does the Bible Say About the Cost of Sin?
I think it helps when considering the character of God to make a list of words that describe Him. And in doing this simple exercise, it quickly becomes very clear exactly who He isn’t...
Our Heavenly Father is: Therefore... He Absolutely Opposes:
Perfection, Purity & Truth Destruction, Corruption & Lies
Abundant, Never-ending Life Physical Death, Spiritual Death
Light & Love Darkness & Hate
A Creator, Purposeful Multiplier of Life Listlessness, Nonproductive Activity
Holy, Righteous, Fully Good Unholy, Unrighteous, Sinful
Virtuousness, Justice Immortality, Injustice
Friends, I could go on and on here. But the one thing I hope you take away from this short list is the absolute qualities of God. There is no gray in, with or through Him. He is the epitome of a type of integrity that we simply could never comprehend on this side of eternity. He is fully worthy in His holiness. And the moment Adam and Eve let go of the tail of His coat, humanity became so unworthy that we could not only no longer walk side-by-side with God, but would die at the mere sight of His radiant presence. (Note: If this is hard for you to understand, think for a moment about darkness. In the presence of light, darkness completely vanishes. Darkness simply cannot be or exist when subjected to the presence of light. And in the same way, the very presence of God destroys all that is evil. And yes, tragically, this included us.)
So I hope you can see now how the cost of our sin was death. And not only did we subject ourselves to dying a physical death, but also an eternal death (since God’s original plan was for us to live forever with Him). But even then there was still hope for us because despite our rebellion against Him, God still loved us so much so that He made a way…
In His great mercy He poured out an antidote… the blood of another in place of ours. The Bible refers to this as concept as atonement, or the reparation or expiation for sin.
We see this clearly displayed for the first time in the garden when God brought forth skins to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Animals were slain, blood was spilled, and lives were taken for the sake of the covering of their sin. And then they were cast out of the garden into a future of certain toil and suffering. But the Bible tells us that before the foundation of the earth was laid, our foreknowing God already had a plan set into place for our total redemption... the atoning sacrifice of His perfect Son, Jesus.
What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” – Leviticus 20:13 ESV
Okay. So God’s word reveals that homosexuality is not just a sin, but also an abomination. The Hebrew form of this word relates to something that is disgusting or despicable and is associated with the practice of idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of false gods.
I think it is worth mentioning here that the context of Leviticus 20 largely relates to the sexual practices associated with idolatry, which included human sacrifice (at worst) as well as sexual immortality (in general). The broader definition of sexual immortality could be interpreted to include sexual acts that even heterosexuals can be guilty of within their own marriages, as well as within the confines of non-biblical divorce and remarry.
The Bible tells us that adultery falls under this category of sin and Jesus, Himself, tells us that adultery can be accomplished just as easily with the mind as with the body.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28
Now, relating specifically to abomination, I think it’s very necessary to see what other sins are described this way within the scriptures in order to understand the full meaning, context, and implication.
Proverbs 6 tells us that there are six things that the Lord hates… and seven, which are an abomination to Him:
“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.” – Proverb 6:16-19 ESV
Let’s break this list down to get a better idea of what it’s really saying here:
1. Haughty eyes = the one who is arrogant and prideful.
2. Lying tongue = the one who tells lies.
3. Hands that shed innocent blood = the one who takes the life of another.
4. Heart that devises wicked plans = the one who plots against the will/plan of God.
5. Feet that make haste and run to evil = to one who walks/advances in the direction of unrighteousness.
6. False witness = the one who tells lies about another (especially about God).
7. Sows discord among brothers = the one who creates conflict among others.
The first thing I’d like to point out here is that as Christians, we are most certainly guilty of one or more things on this list and often frequently. The more spiritually mature of us will certainly commit fewer indiscretions (in range and frequency) over time. But make no mistake; most of us have in the past and will in the future commit an abomination, despite our knowledge and deepest desire (of the heart) not to do so.
One of my favorite passages from the writings of Paul shows how conflicted a Christian’s heart is while on this side of eternity. He knows all too well the desires of the Holy Spirit for all of us; the call to righteousness. But in his human weakness, he writes that even he, a marvel of a man and apostle of God, messes up more often than he’d like. He writes:
“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” – Romans 7:14-20 NASB
I think this passage of scripture is a beautiful gift the Holy Spirit gives to us because it addresses the big, fat elephant in our hearts… the sin nature we became hard-wired with the moment we were born into a fallen world. And brothers and sisters, whether you’ve gotten your big, hairy monster well trained over the years, so that it sleeps almost all the time, or yours is undisciplined, unruly and always stirring, leaving huge piles of crap everywhere it goes… we must all remember… we all have one.
So does this mean we should just give in to our sinful natures then? As Paul would also say… by no means! We must fight the good fight. We must resist, calling on the Holy Spirit to help us conquer the influence of that elephant every moment of every day! But we also must know that without its supernatural empowering, we would all be hopeless slaves to sin! Praise be to Jesus for the life-changing gift of the Holy Spirit!
Now, back to the list…
The second thing I would like to point out is that for the most part, all these sins can be easily hidden, kept to ones self, and denied when we are accused. But for the homosexual who is in a relationship, it’s visible to all… all the time. For this reason, friends, I believe that homosexuality is the redheaded stepchild of modern day sin. When the truth is, abomination is not exclusive to “those people” rockin’ the rainbow garb… its universal. It’s humanity.
The last thing that caught my eye when perusing this list is that the sin of lying actually made the abomination list twice. Let that sink in for a moment and I’m certain that it will convict your heart, just as it convicted mine. Little-white. Or big-whopping. Consciously or unconsciously. It doesn’t matter. God clearly hates it and it’s the one infraction that many of us are most guilty of committing on a daily basis.
Now that we’ve covered the topic of abomination and how that relates to all of us, I would like to take a moment and try and explain in layman’s terms why I believe that God so strongly opposes homosexuality.
As a writer, I personally know the absolute necessity of a powerful first sentence. And in my humble opinion, there has never been a more powerful first sentence than that found on page-one of the Bible:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NASB
This line, my friends, truly takes my breath away. It gives a glimpse of God’s own heart… and provides many unarguable truths about His character. He is an intentional and productive Creator. And He’s not just sitting around knitting afghans with His time and energy. He’s building solar systems. He’s giving life to a future existence beyond human comprehension. And we get all that… From. One. Line.
Wow!!! Are you with me, friends?
By no means am I trying to minimize the sin of homosexuality. But just from this one line, I think we can all see how the sheer reality of it opposes who God is at His core. Everything He touches grows and multiplies life, both in the physical and spiritual, present and eternal. And the reality is, homosexuality just doesn’t accomplish what God created man and woman to do together. People cannot spring up from their union. Souls cannot be brought into existence from their union. And they cannot, from God’s viewpoint, come together to make one flesh as God had purposed. (Note: If you are having a hard time understanding this last point, consider a pair of shoes. Even if they are the exact same size and design, two left shoes or two right shoes, will never come together to be a fully functioning pair.)
That said, homosexuality is sinful to God because the reality of its potential contribution to society and eternity falls short of His plan for mankind.
Why do I even bother mentioning this? It’s because like I said, I clearly remember how I used to be before I came to know my true sin nature (or more importantly… who I am now, in Christ). It’s because I remember how hard it hit my heart, when I realized that I was an unrighteous sinner standing before a righteous God. When, for so long I actually thought God was proud of me for being better than most since I was apparently secure in the fact that I had never robbed a bank. How’s that for an oxymoron?
So, hear me when I say, my friends, when we call our homosexual friends out on their apparent sin… we are getting them somewhere spiritually. Backwards. Therefore I’m here today for the purpose of giving you permission to back off… to hold your tongue and the hands of the LGBTQ community in unity… as a flawed people who are doing our best to advance in our walks with the Lord… little-by-little, day-by-day.
Because while all sin is grave and yields an abundance of disastrous consequences to us during our time on this planet… I believe God’s eternal love is FAR greater than our innumerable (death-deserving) shortcomings. He loves you, anyway. He loves me, regardless. And His grace is capable of saving everyone in the LGBTQ community and moving them toward repentance just like He has done and is doing with you and me. But first, He must get the opportunity to develop a real and life-changing relationship with them… a relationship that is facilitated when we are capable of loving like He does. Said simply, my friends, we must be a lighthouse of love illuminating the darkness of this world. Because without the light of the Son shining through us, how can we ever expect anyone to find his or her way to the Father?
So… to all of you out there who, like me, have been found guilty and yet have been redeemed… I believe the call to us is to rise up and love our LGBTQ friends and family fiercely, completely and without judgment… just as we love ourselves, just as Jesus commanded us to do during His time on earth. And I believe we can stay true to God’s word in the process by allowing Him to speak through us the greater truth of the patient love that is our savior, Jesus.
And for those of you following along with this series, please join me back here next week where we will further explore what the Bible says about the importance of time and God's perfect timing as it relates to the process of spiritual transformation.