By Ron Williams
“Homosexual.” Immediately, your mind relays some thought to your senses about that term. What comes to your mind? What religious connotation, if any, comes into play?
Now think of these terms: adultery, fornication, gossip, murder, theft, alcoholism, dishonesty, slander, laziness, filthy language, blaspheming the name of God, illegal use of drugs, disrespect for God’s Word, idolatry, covetousness, anger, malice, hatred, racial strife, and still others that could be mentioned. What thoughts come to your senses about these terms? What comes to your mind? What religious connotation comes into play?
Question: Is there any quantitative difference between one who is a homosexual versus one who is an adulterer? Or someone who is having sexual relations outside the sacredness of marriage? Or someone who slanders, or is lazy, or allows filth to spew from their mouth, or who disgraces God’s name, or who uses drugs illegally, or practices idolatry in some form? Is one who practices homosexuality worse than one who is covetous or gets out of control with anger or malice toward others? Is homosexuality worse than racial division and strife toward someone whose color of skin is different than mine?
As far as God is concerned, sin is sin and can and will cause one to be lost in Hell if not repented of, and changed their practice of such sin(s). When Paul addressed the newly converted Christians in Corinth, he reminded them, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Do you think it mattered to Paul whether one or more of the members there at Corinth had lived a former life in practicing homosexuality more than an adulterer or other sins listed in this passage? Corinth was known for being a city of great debauchery and was considered a cesspool of any and every kind of immorality possibly known to man in the First Century. Paul knew that the only thing that could change such behaviors was the saving power of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Paul continually instructed the Corinthian church to give up worldly behavior to change and reflect the character of Jesus Christ. Paul said, “For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:4).
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul’s instructions on the man who was involved in incest with his father’s wife was clear and to the point. With all that Paul said about this young man, do you suppose this young man (who later repented and changed, and Paul instructed for the church to take him back (2 Corinthians 2:3-11) was less a sinner than one who was a practicing homosexual?
After Paul addressed the various sins mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6, he continues to remind his brethren of the danger of sexual immorality. Paul admonishes, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s,” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Please do not misunderstand this article as if I am suggesting that the practice of homosexuality is less important than other sins. That is certainly not the case. The practice of homosexuality, like other fleshly sins, destroys the very fabric of the family unit as God intended and planned. Those who would be homosexuals disregard God’s plan for husbands and wives to enjoy sexual intimacy within marriage and the procreation of children within that family structure.
Paul addressed that particular topic in 1 Corinthians 7 and, very succinctly, reminds husbands and wives of their obligation to use their physical relationship toward each other as God intended (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). The Hebrew writer added to this emphasis on marital intimacy when he wrote, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge,” (Hebrews 13:4). Surely the practice of homosexuality is a violation of these scriptures and others that promote God’s plan of one man and one woman in life continually with the exception of infidelity found in Matthew 19:1-9.
Having set the stage with these thoughts, I now ask the question, how can a Christian love and appreciate one who is a homosexual and yet maintain their fervent love for God? Is it inconsistent for a Christian to spend time with one who practices homosexuality and yet love Christ?
In the 1990s, the religious rage was WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? Regardless of what good or bad was said about this phenomenon, it is still an excellent question to consider. How would Jesus confront a homosexual? How would Jesus lovingly look at one that practices a sin that is detrimental to our society and disrespectful of God’s law for marriage and family?
Would Jesus treat a homosexual as He would (and did) those caught in adultery or other sinful actions? I believe He would. I believe Jesus would not shy away from anyone that wanted to be around Him. I believe Jesus would try to get to know the person behind the sin that was in their life. I believe Christ would try to establish a relationship with any individual whereby He would be able to say things to them that needed to be said.
On one occasion, Jesus came to Matthew (Levi’s) tax office and told Matthew to follow Him. The following then took place: “Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples, for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,’” (Mark 2:15-17).
I wonder what kind of conversations Jesus had with those tax collectors and sinners? Do you think they only talked about the weather or what was happening in Jerusalem or Rome? Do you really believe that Jesus did not lovingly and kindly address their sin issues and what He could do for them? Don’t you think He gave them an explanation for the main reason He had come into this world, to save sinners by His death on Calvary’s cross?
When Jesus encountered the sinful woman from Samaria, did He avoid telling her what she needed to hear (John 4)? When the Pharisees tried to set Jesus up with a moral dilemma in John 8, did Christ abstain from telling the adulterous woman that she needed to quit doing what she was doing?
Today, in our world, there are those who have rebelled against God and are doing their own thing and living their own way, including the practicing homosexuality. How do we confront them? How do we befriend them? How do we share the gospel with them? The same way that Jesus did. We say the same things, we act the same way, we follow the same process that our Lord did with those sinners of His day. With love in our hearts for God, we take the love of Jesus and share it to those who will listen. May God truly bless our efforts as we strive to be salt and light in a world that is filled with much darkness and sin.