I have considered addressing this issue ever since I began blog writing, but I long delayed doing so. When I write about a subject, I want to tie the subject into deeper issues that can impact multiple aspects of life. On the subject of homosexuality, I previously felt that my other writings on this blog gave enough insights into my spiritual framework to give readers a decent, educated guess on how I would approach the subject. But I have recently decided that there is value in addressing this topic directly in order to share my fundamental beliefs on spirituality more clearly.
So, to begin the analysis of homosexuality, consider the often-quoted rationale that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. I believe that a sufficient response to this claim cannot merely consist of, “it’s condemned elsewhere in the New Testament.” As you may realize from my other writings, I believe there is a progression of revelation in the New Testament, and Christians today are operating on different phases of understanding as reflected in the Scriptures themselves.
Jesus summarized his teaching, and the teaching of the Old Testament law and prophets, in the following way,
Matthew 22:37-40 – “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
I do not think Jesus is saying that a person who (in their mind) is living by these two principles is necessarily following the entire law. Furthermore, I do not think this teaching is meant to be a replacement for the individual rules of the law.
However, what I think Jesus is saying is that a person’s level of adherence to the law should be determined by how well they followed these two overarching principles. Jesus had a major problem with the Pharisees, who ardently followed certain individual details, but missed the big picture.
Nobody follows the law perfectly, neither the details nor the big picture. On one of several occasions when Jesus got into conflict with the Pharisees over the application of Sabbath laws, He cited the actions of David from the Old Testament:
Matthew 12:3-4 – “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests.”
There is no mention of David being punished for this. I believe that in David’s conscience, he felt justified in this act because he wanted to help his companions. And David himself had to survive to in order to continue helping his companions. Thus, God did not judge him as a thief.
This brings us to a key point. Where judgment is concerned, what matters is one’s adherence to the two overarching principles of the law, as witnessed by one’s conscience, as opposed to the details of the law. Those who strive to follow the two overarching principles are forgiven of their violations of the details.
With that in mind, we can look at the concept of homosexuality. Sexual intercourse between two males was forbidden in the law of Moses. However, there are some Christians today who do not see a conflict between a monogamous, committed homosexual relationship, and the two overarching principles of the law. If believers in Christ are genuinely striving to follow the two overarching principles, but also engage in a homosexual relationship, there is reason to think they will be forgiven of their sins when their lives are judged.
Before we move on, consider the themes discussed thus far. We have looked at judgment, forgiveness, and law. However, in God’s working with humanity post-Calvary, these themes have vastly evolved.
The Apostle Paul writes about how believers are justified in Christ as new creations (2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 6:1-14). This goes beyond the former message of forgiveness. The former message of forgiveness assumed that something was wrong with you, but you were being let off the hook. However, justification, as taught by Paul, is about there being nothing inherently wrong with you, and you live in a realm of newness and rightness.
In this dynamic, law takes on a new meaning. In the Old Covenant, law was a bar held above you that you sought to measure yourself against and reach upward to attain. Thus, there was a degree of separation between what you were and what you should be.
However, in the reality of the new creation, we have a new nature, and the Christian life is about living in accord with our core nature, rather than fighting against it.
Resisting temptation is about resisting pressures from belief systems, cultural expectations, and peer pressures that would cause us to constrain ourselves into lifestyles that do not fit our core nature that God created us to have.
Returning to the subject of sexuality, it is important to realize how sexuality is an intrinsic aspect of our being. Many conservative Christians seem to think that the sexual side of our existence should simply remain dormant until we enter a heterosexual marriage. But this really is impossible, because the same hormones and neurotransmitters that are involved with sexual desire and gratification also play a vital role in giving us energy and creativity in our day-to-day lives.
Before I get back to the subject of homosexuality, I want to discuss heterosexuality for a moment. In an audio recording I made last year, I discussed how, in the semantics of the ancient Hebrew, it appears that in the Genesis account of Creation, Adam was created with both male and female organs, and the female organs were removed from him to form Eve. Thus, the power of heterosexual intercourse is that it returns humanity to a type of its original state. The Bible teaches that married couples become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:5-9). This obviously cannot refer to just any type of physical contact; it refers to the union of male and female genitalia that brings humanity to a form of its original dual-sex state.
I am confident that if this principle is realized, people can decide not to engage in sex outside of marriage, without the abstinence requiring a lot of whining and sweating. Due to the nature of sexual intercourse, which affects the core of human existence, it seems reasonable to think that engaging in it without a lifelong commitment causes more harm than good. Thus, abstinence should be able to arise from respect for prospective partners, and appreciation of their entire being as it currently stands. I believe that this respect is ultimately found at the core of our being as new creations in Christ, and that it can allow us to accept our sexual natures as active gifts in our lives to provide energy and inspiration, as opposed to threats that need to be contained.
Now, returning to the subject of homosexuality – we can consider whether it a sin for two people of the same sex to engage in sexual intercourse if they are in a committed, lifelong relationship. Here is what I would say: If it is a sin, the deep, profound pleasure and fulfillment that married, opposite-sex couples experience during intercourse should occur in reverse for homosexual couples. In other words, when homosexual couples engage in intercourse, or even when they seriously ponder intercourse, they should be faced with a strong sense of malaise – like when people say that they “just felt sick” about a situation. This feeling would be the Holy Spirit’s way of working with their reborn nature to indicate that the act is immoral.
I am aware that many active homosexuals (including Christians) do not testify of this experience. This could be because many homosexuals are sort of living under law rather than grace. Many gay Christians are trying hard to prove that they are compassionate people and committed followers of Christ. Because their attention is on works rather than grace, they may not be aware of how they truly feel about their sexual lifestyle as new creations.
It is also possible that actively homosexual Christians who understand grace may not experience the malaise associated with sexual intent at first, but that over time, the Holy Spirit will work such that the negative response develops inside of them, and they will eventually form an asexual relationship with their partner. If this is the case, I trust in God enough to let their lives play out in such a manner, with confidence that ultimately the whole process works together for their good.
Lastly, it has been argued by some that the Scriptures condemning homosexuality are referring to religious cult rituals involving same-sex intercourse, or homosexual pedophilia, as opposed to committed, monogamous relationships. This is the view of Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network. Here is a link to his article discussing the matter (these particular arguments appear in sections “Prooftext #2 and Prooftext #3”).
I believe that individual Christians will need to judge for themselves whether any of these views proposed are correct. But it is important to have a Biblical framework to make these determinations, rather than resorting to cultural relevance. I have written this article to help develop such a framework. Feel free to share any experiences or perspectives that you believe are helpful in this regard.