I was recently asked what I think about homosexuality. I’d like to reply, “That’s the wrong question”. However, that doesn’t satisfy genuine curiosity. It’s the wrong question because it’s used to bait Christians into an answer, which is then used to slander Christians of being bigoted homophobes. Ironically, the word bigot means “A person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions”. So, the person proclaiming that Christians are bigots is expressing their own bigotry.
Anyways, I feel it’s more useful to first understand the Biblical view of marriage and sexuality, then we can understand why deviations from this are offensive to that view. The topic of homosexuality must not be separated from the other sexual sins that incurred the death penalty under Moses’ law: adultery, incest and bestiality. There are few who would not condemn one of these.
Now, if these people are offending the Bible, to be harsh, we could call them enemies. But we are therefore to love them all the more, as the Jesus says:
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you
Unfortunately, many use Biblical standards to justify their xenophobia, while completely rejecting others. On the other hand, many embrace other people’s sin and encourage behaviour God condemns. This apparent mercy an tolerance means we’re loving our neighbours into Hell.
Let’s begin at the beginning
Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
10His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
So, when Jesus was baited, to accuse him of either rejecting the law or rejecting mercy, he set the record straight by going back to the origins of marriage. He pointed out that although it might be legal, it is still not right, but divorce is sometimes necessary e.g. in cases of abuse. Sometimes it is the lesser evil. However, if a divorcee remarries, their sexual relations will have the effects of adultery – that is, that the precious intimacy intended for one person alone is contaminated. However, this can be redeemed.
Exodus 22:16 “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. 17If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.
In traditional Maori culture, I’ve heard that if a boy got a girl pregnant, they were immediately married.
So, having sex before marriage is not punishable by death, but is resolved through marriage i.e. stop playing around and commit to each other, or make legal the bond that you’ve already consummated. Otherwise marrying another would effectively be adultery.
Deuteronomy 22:28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.
Anti-Christians love to misrepresent this to blaspheme God, by claiming he demands a woman is further punished by forced to marriage to her rapist. The above law applies, that her father can veto this. We must consider the cultural context, that marriage was a woman’s security. If she were no longer a virgin, she couldn’t get married. Therefore, this law forces the rapist to support the woman for the rest of her days.
So, we’re getting a picture of a bond that is created by sexual intercourse, that causes damage when broken. This bond lays the foundation for life-long security and support.
The law of Moses
Regarding sexuality, Moses instigated this law for the nation of Israel. This often forms the basis for other nation’s laws. It is not for general citizens to enforce the law, particularly that of another country or time.
Leviticus 20:10 ‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. 11The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 12If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed perversion. Their blood shall be upon them. 13If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 14If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you. 15If a man mates with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them.
Marriage is an image of God
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Notice “Us” and “Our image”. If we start at the beginning of the Bible, all we know of God is that he’s a creator. When we look at the perfection of creation, even in its currently broken state, we see God’s infinite intelligence in delicately balancing everything. Just has he is the ruler of the Heavens and the Earth, he made us rulers over the Earth. But this “us” thing is interesting. This refers to the trinity:
Genesis 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
So, we’re made in God’s image – male and female. Some claim from this that the Holy Spirit is female. While in both Greek and Hebrew, “spirit” is a feminine word, “He” is specifically used. This idea stems from the various pagan god-mothers.
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
But then if we’re created in the image of the trinity, where’s the third person in our relationship? That would be God himself.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are
better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
I love how Ravi Zacharias describes marriage as a “unity of diversity” podcast, YouTube. Marriage, like the trinity, is the fusion of diverse individuals, each compensating each other’s weaknesses and celebrating each other’s strengths.
I also love how King David’s friend, Gad the Seer says, “God is one, like my mother and father are one”.
Marriage is an image of Jesus’ relationship with the church
The Bible often refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Jesus did indeed leave Heaven (his father and mother), to be united with his bride. He paid the bride-price by dying on the cross, to purchase our rescue from our destiny in Hell. Jesus often refers to marriage in his parables of heaven and his relationship with us.
The Bible talks a lot about sex, marriage and relationships. Around our dinner table, so do we. Once one of our homestays jokingly exclaimed “Do you have to talk about sex again, can’t we talk about the Bible?” Being somewhat insensitive, I started reading
Song of Solomon 1:2 [The
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
For your love is better than wine.
3Because of the fragrance of your good ointments,
Your name is ointment poured forth;
Therefore the virgins love you.
4Draw me away!
[The Daughters of Jerusalem]
We will run after you.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
[The Daughters of Jerusalem]
We will be glad and rejoice in you.
We will remember your love more than wine.
This love poem gets quite explicit, showing how marriage partners can express love to each other in a godly manner. It also demonstrates the relationship between Jesus and his church (bride).
Spiritual rebellion is like prostitution
On the other hand, the Bible likens Israel’s running after other Gods to prostitution, because they violated God’s eternal covenant with God for other gods. Ezekiel 23 tells the story of two sisters, who were constantly playing the harlot. He likened Israel and Judah to these two sisters, and he would judge them according to their unfaithfulness. The book of Hosea tells the story of a prophet, whom God told to marry a harlot. This demonstrates his love through mercy and grace toward Israel, even though they were constantly wayward. This brings a beautiful message to the Church whose behaviour is often just as corrupt.
Although we’re uncomfortable with God judging us, God cannot stand sin, particularly rebellion against him. While he has repeatedly done everything possible to restore us back to him, those who do not accept his outstretched arms to restore relationship with him will bear the full consequences of their sin – that is to be cast into Hell, which was prepared for the devil and his angels (not for people).
Marriage is the legal binding of a man and a woman as they leave their parents to become one physically, spiritually and intellectually. This is a life-long process. Marriage is sealed by sexual intercourse, which is described in old English as “knowing”.
Genesis 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain
Matthew 1:25 and [Joseph] did not know her [Mary] till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Perversion of sexual intercourse through adultery, incest, homosexuality and bestiality is condemned under Moses’ law with death. This expresses the severity and consequences of such sin. The New Testament reiterates this in its simplified law:
Acts 15:29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
One must refer to Moses’ law to define sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 6:9 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, 10nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And 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.
Note that with this condemnation of such sins, Paul notes that we behaved likewise, he himself hunted and murdered Christians. But we are restored to righteousness when we turn to Jesus.
So, adultery, incest, homosexuality and bestiality are an offence against marriage, which is the image of God, and the prophetic image of his ultimate plan for humanity. To sanction adulterous, incestuous, homosexual or bestial marriage is the ultimate insult to this image. Any person who participates in such is participating in their rebellion against the very essence of God. This is why Christians refuse to cater for homosexual weddings.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is … not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
John 3:16 For God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send
His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him
might be saved.
18“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
I pray that God would enlighten you with his mercy and grace.