Thursday, February 16, 2017

Homosexual Behavior, the Bible and Christian Meetings

Q. Should homosexuals be invited to and/or allowed to attend congregational meetings of God's people?

A. If we look into the Bible, we see that there is no direct answer to this question. We might ask a similar question, however, so that we might be able see the Biblical principles involved. For instance, should "liars" be invited to congregational meetings of God's people? Should "fornicators" be invited to such meetings? How about thieves, alcoholics, idolaters, or even murderers, all of whom are barred from inheriting the kingdom? -- Galatians 5:19-21.

The question of who should be permitted to come to our meetings cannot be answered either "yes" or "no", for much depends on the purpose for which such an invitation or attendance is made. It certainly wouldn't be proper to keep such persons in fellowship as brothers in Christ if they do not show any desire to turn away from such practices, whether it be lying, fornicating, drunkenness, homosexual behavior, or whatever. -- "But as it is, I wrote to you not to keep company, if any man who is named a brother is a sexual sinner [fornicator], or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don't you judge those who are within? But those who are outside, God judges. 'Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.'" -- 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, World English Bible.

Thus we can see that if one who is called a "brother" continues in such a sin, we are not to have regular fellowship with such a person.

But what about people on the outside who are not considered consecrated to Jehovah; is it acceptable to have them in our fellowship even if they are practicing homosexual behavior? This would depend on whether the point is to gain a repentant brother or not. All of us come from many backgrounds, and were before our repentance practicing fornication, covetousness (greediness), lying, etc. In this regard a worldly person who is practicing homosexual behavior should be shown the same regard as any other sinner who might be seeking the truth of Christ. All of us who are admitted into the family of God have left off some sinful life which we had before. "Do not be led in the wrong way! Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who are soft [lacking in courage; Strong's #3120], nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor those who are greedy, nor drunkards, nor those who speak abusively, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 in the Spirit of our God." (Italics ours -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, RL Revised Rendering) Those who submit to God's spirit will come to have such a desire to serve God that such ones will willingly turn away from such practices. "For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." -- Romans 8:13, World English Bible.
Therefore, if a person who is practicing homosexual behavior, lying, stealing, murder, or any other sin, wishes to associate with us for the purpose of learning the truth of Christ and obeying the Good News, we should not hinder such a person; however, if such a person desires to associate with us for the purpose of saying he can belong to Christ without repentance from such behaviors, it is our conclusion that such cannot be welcomed over any prolonged period of time.

Q. Aren't homosexuals born with the desire for this behavior, and therefore should it not viewed as natural?

A. The question is actually in two parts. We will first treat the part (Part A below) about being born with the desire for this behavior, then the part (Part B below) about treating this behavior as something natural.

Part A:

Please note that the Spirit of God does not necessarily take away desires to sin; it does give us courage and strength to turn away from our desire for sin. "But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death." *James 1:14,15, World English Bible.) It is not sin to be tempted by a desire to steal — it is a sin to give in to the temptation to steal; it is not a sin to be tempted by a desire to commit fornication — it is sin to give into that desire; it is not a sin to be tempted by a desire to lie — it is a sin to give in to that desire. Likewise, it is not a sin to be tempted by same sex desires; it is a sin to give in to those desires.

Whether a person is born with such a desire is not the criteria by which to judge whether such behavior is sin or not. All of us are born with many desires that would tempt us to sin, some in this direction and others in another direction. This does not make carrying out the sinful behavior correct, or not sinful. When Adam sinned, we all inherited his sin as his descendants. "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners." (Romans 5:19, New American Standard Bible) "Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with those who practice them." -- Romans 1:21-32, World English Bible.

The Greek expression translated "gave up" (Strong's #3860) in the World English translation means "to give over to" or "to turn over to". Thus because of Adam's sin, mankind was turned over to these evil desires. Our being born into this world with these desires does not mean the desires are not sinful, or that God approves of our carrying out the desires. If one is born with a tendency to steal, should he claim it is an acceptable practice for him to steal, since he was born that way? If one is born with a tendency to kill, should he claim that it is an acceptable practice to commit murder, since he was born that way?

Part B:

Should homosexual behavior be treated as something natural?

This depends on the meaning given to the word natural. In the Bible there are several Greek words that are translated by natural and nature (as in "by nature"). The words (Strong's #5446, 5449) used in Romans 1:26,27 refer to that which is what considered the proper course of a man and woman sexually, when it describes men and women as changing the natural for that which is not proper by nature. Its source has the meaning of "puff" (Strong's #5456) which implies the outcome of a thing. The usage of Romans 1:26,27 indicates that homosexual behavior is not the intended physical use of the human body.

Nevertheless, as regarding sin, it could be considered natural, for we read that as believers were once "by nature (Strong's #5449) the children of wrath." The outgrowth of the condemnation upon man through Adam's sin is the sinful nature and God's wrath, so that, as an outgrowth of sin, homosexual behavior could be considered natural, but as an outgrowth of God's original purpose for the human body, it is not natural.

Q. What should be the attitude of Christians toward those in the world who are homosexuals?

A. We believe the scriptural answer to this should be: The same as that toward any other sinner in the world. They are to be treated with the same respect and concern as anyone else; we are not given any permission from God or the Bible to pronounce any special condemnation upon them. When we are told to love our neighbors (Matthew 19:19; 22:39), Jesus does not limit that love so that it does not include our neighbors who practice homosexual behavior. Jesus does not limit that love so that it does not include our neighbor who practices fornication, stealing, lying, etc. Indeed, to pronounce a special condemnation of others for their sin would be to condemn ourselves, since no one is without sin of some kind. (Romans 2:1; 3:9,23; 1 John 1:8) Additionally, any actual hate campaign being done against homosexuals in the name of Christ has to be done without his authority. -- Matthew 7:21-23.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that a Christian should condone any sin of anyone -- not even his own sin, whether that sin be lying, stealing, cursing, fornication, or whatever. Likewise, with the homosexual sin. Recognizing that we are all sinners, all of us need that application of the blood of Christ to cleanse us of our sin so that we may reckoned as justified before God. -- Romans 4:5; 5:9,18; Galatians 2:16,17; Ephesians 2:1-10.

Q. Are those of the world who practice homosexual behavior until the day they die condemned for all eternity: eternal damnation?

A. No, we do not find such a thought in the Bible. The condemnation upon the unregenerated who practice homosexual behavior is the same as is upon all the world through Adam -- death. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:16-19) The Bible promises a time when all the heathen will be blessed in the coming day of judgment. But to understand this, we recommend a prayerful and thorough consideration of the studies listed at the end of this page.

Q. If a person is a homosexual by nature, how do you separate the person from what he is?

A. We are all, by nature, born into this world as sinners. We ARE sinners. This we have shown above. Some have a tendency to sin in all kinds of different directions. Having a desire to do something, however, is not the sin. We should not let our sinful desires define who we are. It is what one does with that desire that can lead to the actual sin. Such is controlled by our thoughts: we can entertain the thought of sin, or we can suppress our thoughts related to the desire. "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin." (James 1:14,15, New King James Version) Nevertheless, if one has a passing desire to take what belongs to another, but does not take it, is he considered a thief? If a person has a desire to tell a lie, but does not succumb to such a desire so that he he does not actually tell the lie, is he yet a liar? If a thief stops stealing, is he still to be considered a thief? If a liar stops lying, should he still be considered a liar? A person may feel quite natural in offering gifts and prayers to idols, but does that make it right? But if an idolator turns away from his idolatry, is he still to be considered an idolator? The apostle Paul, when he described the various works of the flesh, then said, "such were some of you." (1 Corinthians 6:11) In other words, the apostle said that some of the Christians in Corinth had at one time been idolaters, covetous, drunkards, adulterers, fornicators, etc. "But", he goes on, "you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." It is not that they all of sudden no longer had any desire to commit the sins mentioned. But by their submission to the power of the holy spirit, they were able to overcome these tendencies, so that the thief was no longer a thief, and the drunkard was no longer a drunkard, etc. Faith is the key, but oh how lacking most of are in faith! The more faith we have in God, the easier it becomes to overcome sinful tendencies. The perfection of our faith in God through Jesus should be our goal. If any thing is lacking, we should pray even more, and seek also the prayer of others in the faith, that we might "grow" in faith, and overcome sin. -- 2 Corinthians 10:15; Galatians 2:20; 1 Thessalonians 3:9,10; 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Hebrews 6:1; 12:1,2; 13:7; James 5:14-16.

See Our Studies:

Studies by Others

Presentations by Some Associated with the Bible Students Movement
Aids - A Modern Pestilence
Clouds of Fear, Linings of Hope - Richard Kindig
A World Divided - Peter Karavas
Morality in the Church
I just found out my son is gay, how do I speak to him as a believer?
The Gay Marriage Law - How Do We Respond? (Christian Questions Radio)

Christian Questions Radio

Can Gay Rights and Christianity Co-exist?
The Gay Marriage Law - How Do We Respond?
Does God Approve of Gay Ministers?
Should We Support Gay Marriage?

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