If the Bible is indeed God's word, gay marriage doesn't fly.
I'm an evangelical Christian. I'm proud of my faith. My salvation defines me more than anything else. My relationship with God affects everything I do. I try to keep the Lord in mind when I make life decisions, and attempt to treat others in a Christ-like fashion. (Attempt. Trust me: I'm far from perfect.)
When I was born again, my life got better. I was changed. I was given a more eternal perspective; granted forgiveness, followed by peace, in Christ's sacrifice on the cross for my sins; blessed with a hunger to improve myself.
Because of my faith, I'm transformed — and I love to talk about it. Well, you know, except in a few circumstances ... the super-uncomfortable, overwhelmingly complex ones.
In the beginning, I wasn't sure about writing this piece. I usually don't mind giving my opinions on a range of topics, especially involving Christianity. However, this issue is far more complicated than anything I've ever been able to verbalize. But I decided to write about homosexuality after SCOTUS's historic vote to legalize gay marriage, because I think the Christian view on the subject is widely misunderstood.
Christians get a lot of flack for holier-than-thou attitudes and gay-basher mentalities. And while I think too many use the Lord's name to mistreat others, the real evangelical perspective on homosexuality has been muddled.
Let's try to clear it up. Let's start with the Bible.
Christians see the Bible as the holy and inspired Word of God, and accept it as 100 percent fact. So, it should be simple. Turn to the Bible and find answers about homosexuality. Easy, right? Um, yeah. Hardly. That just sparks a whole lot of debate.
Recently, there have been so many questions and arguments about what the Great Book really says on the matter. First, though, everyone needs to stop assuming that the Bible says one thing but implies another. There is no code. God says what He means.
And the Bible is very clear on the matter of homosexuality: Male-with-male and female-with-female unions were never apart of God's plan for humanity, and they don't please Him.
From the very beginning of the Old Testament, God's view is explicit. Leviticus 18:22 says, "Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin" (NLT). The sentiment is reiterated in 20:13: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
"Put to death" and "blood on heads" seems like pretty clear dissatisfaction to me. But let's go a step further.
Much has been made about these verses as Old Testament ideology — that they're just outdated. It's true that Jesus never specifically talked about homosexuality in the Gospels. He never sat down with his disciples and said, "Don't do it," or gave a sermon in front of the masses declaring his adamant disapproval. Somehow, that invites speculation that maybe Jesus, the Son of God, didn't care so much.
As the Evangelical Presbyterian Church's teaching on homosexuality is quick to point out, "Jesus did not refer directly to homosexuality. However, our Lord made clear that He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. He not only fulfilled it, He strengthened it."
Jesus fulfilled 332 separate prophesies laid out in the Old Testament to show his supreme authority as ruler of heaven and earth. Rest assured, he was concerned about the teachings in the Old Testament. He fulfilled them. The New and Old Testament are intricately linked. We cannot throw out what the Old Testament says because it's more convenient to new-age thinking.
Lee Jefferson counter-argues my claim in his piece, "What Does The Bible Actually Say About Gay Marriage?" He writes, "Simply put, the Bible is a complicated collection of documents that was never meant to 'speak' to our contemporary situation, but groups often speak through the lens of the Bible and lob textual grenades on issues like same-sex marriage."
It's easy to see where he's coming from, but I think he's quite wrong. Does Jefferson really believe that the almighty, all-powerful and all-knowing God would lend an old-school guide that Christians would need to ditch in just a few years? Jefferson seems to forget one important detail: Times change, but God doesn't.
Over and over again, God displays that He is an unchangeable God. "I am the LORD, and I do not change" (Malachi 3:6, NLT); "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17); "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:13).
God was the same God when He created the universe as He is today. When divine inspiration crafted The Bible, it was meant to last the ages. Its messages were meant to teach across generations and throughout nations. God wouldn't have given Christians an outdated manual. Everything He needs His children to know is still right there within the pages.
And although Jesus never taught specifically on homosexuality, the apostle Paul did. In the New Testament, Paul touches on the subject in multiple places. In Romans, he talks about God's reaction: "So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself ... That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other" (Romans 1:24-1:26 NIV).
God was hurt by their actions. And the unchangeable God is still hurt today.
So, homosexuality? God isn't a fan. He has said so since the very beginning of time, since the early parts of the Old Testament through the New Testament writings of Paul, so I tell you this with complete certainty. But before you stop reading, consider something more.
You know what God really isn't a fan of? God just isn't a fan of sin. All sins hurt Him.
Often when this debate rages over Christianity and gay rights, advocates and opponents seem to forget that it's not just homosexuality that God has expressed His disfavor toward — it's sin in general. It's lust, greed, murder, adultery, lies, abuse, rage, premarital sex. The list goes on and on. God has declared many acts sinful in nature, and yet we partake in them anyway.
Luckily though, that's what grace is all about.
I'm sure Jesus would treat any sinner the same way, much like he treated the adulterous woman. When a crowd wanted Christ to sentence her to death by stoning, he shocked the bystanders with a message, His message, of overwhelming grace. "'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'" (John 8:7 NIV). When no one took him up on the offer, he continued: "'Neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin'" (v. 11).
Bottom line? God hates sin. But He loves the one who commits the sin. It's why He sent Jesus to die, because He loves humanity that much — no exceptions.
Whether we're Christian or Jewish, white or black, men or women, gay or straight, He offers salvation based on Christ's sacrifice and no other requirements. Paul wrote that God "wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4 NLT), and that's what Christian attitudes toward gay marriage and homosexuality should reflect.
And I believe that's what most Christians' attitudes toward gay rights really do try to reflect: God's love, the Bible's truth, and salvation as the ultimate goal for all humanity.