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1-26 The Bible and Homosexuality 8-15-2004

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MBC - 8/15/2004 - Pastor Doug Thompson

“The Bible and Homosexuality - Pt.1”

(What about same-sex marriage?)

Romans 1:26,27

In our study of Romans, a letter that was written almost 2,000 years ago, we come this morning to this passage. As we read it, notice how profoundly relevant it is to us on August 15, 2004--

Ø      ROM 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Ø      ROM 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

Ø      ROM 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Ø      ROM 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper. . .

Intro: The relevance of this issue.

Ø      Friday’s PD - Headline: High Court voids SF gay weddings. . . Court’s decision brings tears, cheers. “The state Supreme court on Thursday voided nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned in San Francisco this year and ruled unanimously that Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”

Ø      Then right next to this is a picture of Gov. Jim McGreevy of New Jersey who announced on the same day in a press conference that he was resigning as governor because he, a married man with two children, had been having an affair--with another man.

Ø      Inside on p.8, a story about the Vatican shutting down one of its seminaries in Austria for widespread homosexual conduct and rampant pornography, including child pornography.

People look to the church to see what it says about these issues. A few months ago, when Mayor Newsom began marrying homosexuals on the steps of the courthouse in SF, Larry King immediately pre-empted his scheduled program to put together a panel (including John MacArthur and Max Lucado) to talk about the relationship between religion and gay-marriage because people are curious: “What does the Bible say about homosexuality? What does God think of gay marriage?”

And if people know that you are a Christian, people are going to want to know what you think, and they are going to ask you.

Are you ready? When that happens, you will have the incredible opportunity to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God to someone--or to misrepresent God and His Word.

I want us to be prepared to speak clearly and truthfully on this issue because we think clearly and truthfully. And the only way we can think truthfully about homosexuality and gay marriage is by knowing what God’s Word says. We are in the midst of a moral and spiritual hurricane that makes Charley look like a summer breeze! And the only apologetic against homosexuality that can stand up in this storm, is the Word of God, not your feelings or my feelings about gays or gay-marriage, not statistics and studies and anecdotes, not pragmatic arguments for why monogamous heterosexuality works better than the alternatives. You will get blown over if that’s all you have in your arsenal. We must be armed with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

And we’re just going to get started this morning. There is much to say and this is a sensitive issue. Almost everyone of us here knows a friend, or a family member or someone we work with who is a homosexual. This isn’t some abstract issue for us. We read this passage in Romans and names and faces come into our minds. We want to be able to do what Paul tells us in Eph.4:15: “speaking the truth in love.” We want our conviction to be balanced by our compassion. So this morning I want to talk about the need for us to think biblically on this, and then I want to answer the question, “What does the Bible say about same-sex marriage?” (Pray?)

I. The battle for our truth.

 

Pontius Pilate was way ahead of his time. 2,000 years ago, he asked the cynical question that defines our age: “What is truth?” “Is there any such thing? If there is, how can you know what it is? Doesn’t everyone have their own truth?”

Most people didn’t ask those kinds of questions 50 years ago. But there has been a radical shift in the concept of truth in our culture. It’s the shift from modernism to post-modernism, for those of you who are familiar with those terms: people used to believe in such a thing as objective truth. Now they disagreed and argued about what was true but at least they believed there was something to argue about. That’s changed. Today, many people don’t believe that absolute, objective truth even exists. Listen to this statement by a college professor:

Ø      “Every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal. there is no hierarchy of truth. Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative.”

But did you know that according to a recent study, 57% of kids brought up in Christian homes would say they believe the same thing! We have been infected, folks. The average person on the street in Middletown probably can’t spell “postmodernism,” but he or she probably has bought into it because they probably believe that truth is relative, ethics are situational, and authority is always to be questioned.

Ø      Let me illustrate it this way: You take someone who is, oh, say, 50 years old. When that person was a child, the majority of people believed that it was living together out of wedlock was immoral, and homosexuals were deviant, immoral perverts. Maybe they couldn’t explain why, but they believed there was a right and a wrong. But today, 40 years later, ask this person about these two situations, and what answer are you likely to get? “Oh no, these things aren’t immoral or sinful, it just depends upon the people and the situation!”

And this battle for truth is at the heart of the debate over same-sex marriage. Let me explain:

It used to be that when a judge went to the Constitution, he was trying to find the meaning that the authors intended. He wasn’t trying to create meaning, he naturally assumed that the authors knew what they wanted to say, and they tried to express it as clearly as they could.

Ø      But we have fallen so far from this idea of truth that today, people feel free to see their own meaning in the Constitution and in the law, their own interpretation--and that’s just as valid as anyone else’s feelings about it. So if you happen to be the Mayor of SF, you can interpret the Article I, Section 7, subdivision (a) of the California Constitution to sanction gay marriage, and you can just ignore Proposition 22 of 4 years ago that said that marriage between one man and one woman--and you can still smile at the cameras and say that you are upholding the laws--and call yourself a practicing Christian to boot!

Here is the point: The Constitution is being amended today, whether we like it or not! Because the idea of absolute truth has been abandoned, they are free to create a definition of marriage that has never existed. So the question is not whether the Constitution will be amended concerning same-sex marriage, the question is will it be amended by a constitutional convention, or through the backdoor by creating a meaning that the authors would never have imagined in their worst nightmare?

 

II. The key to discerning truth.

So what are Christians to do in a world where the most basic words like “truth, right, wrong--marriage” lose their meanings? Pilate asked “What is truth?” and Jesus gave the answer in Jn.17:17: “Thy Word is truth!”

We must know the truth, believe it, love it, and declare it! And when it comes to this cutting edge issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, we can’t fight relativism with more relativism, we must meet it with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

“Now, you’re not saying that when someone asks us about homosexuality or same-sex marriage, all we should say is, “Well, the Bible says!” That’s exactly what I’m saying! And I’m saying, don’t say anything else! The minute you start giving the results of studies you have read, or quoting biologists, or whatever, you are playing the game according to their rules--you have caved in. And eventually you will lose the argument when they come up with another set of statistics!

But the Word of God will stand. “But they don’t believe the Bible.” Since when does that stop us from using it? Of course they don’t believe it if they are unbelievers, but what is the only thing in the world that will make believers out of unbelievers? “The imperishable seed of the Word of God.”

I want to show you how the Word of the God is the key to discerning truth in this issue. Look with me at:

Ø      ROM 1:26  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

Ø      ROM 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Ø      ROM 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Homosexuality is a result of people who don’t see fit to acknowledge God any longer. Now pay close attention to what I say here: there is one Gk. word behind “see fit,” and it is the word--doximazo_--meaning “to test for the purpose of giving approval.” It’s the word used in 2 Cor.13:5: “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is for real.” Peter used the word of trials testing our faith to see if it’s genuine. Paul used it of testing Deacons to see if they should be approved for that office.

But how is it used here? It says that these people put God to the test to see if He met their specifications for a God they would like, and He didn’t, so they have disapproved of God! He isn’t worthy of “having in their knowledge.” God failed their test, and should be ignored.

This is incredible! Their minds have been so darkened because of their suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, that they have the nerve to put God to the test, not only that--He fails! And the ironic result is that God turns them over to a depraved mind, and the word is a-dokimos--unapproved--a mind that fails the test of being able to think rationally at all. They look at the things which God says are good and acceptable and virtuous, and they give it all thumbs down. They look at the things God calls corrupt, evil, and abominable, and they say, “Two thumbs up!”

Ø      Prov.9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Do you see that people whose thinking is so twisted that they give thumbs down to God have no wisdom, no true knowledge, and no discernment?

Homosexuals might be sensitive, creative, talented, off the charts in their intelligence, even conservative--even Republicans! But they have depraved minds because they have judged God and rejected Him. And God’s punishment is to give them over to their depraved thinking so that cannot think about spiritual things with any rationality, which means that all their arguments and rationalizations are utter foolishness, and we shouldn’t be intimidated or swayed by any of it. And Prov. says don’t answer a fool according to his folly.

I want us to see how we can be prepared--

Ø      ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world--don’t be squeezed into the shape of the world and its twisted thinking--but be transformed [the word for metamorphosis] by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

The word dokimos is in this verse--do you see where it is? “So that you might prove what the will of God is--that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Remember that word means “to test for the purpose of approving.” Paul says here that when we as Christians have minds that have been renewed by God’s Word, we will have His mind, and when we put life to the test we will approve what He approves of! We will see things that are evil and ungodly and give them thumbs down, but we will that which is good and acceptable and perfect and say, “Two thumbs up!”

Do you see how desperately we need to have Scripture-saturated, renewed minds to deal with this issue? If Christians are going to have any influence, if we are going to be salt and light and have a voice, then we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds!

And that means more than just reading your Bible and having a general idea of what the Bible says about homosexuality, it means being transformed by what you read so that you not only have the mind of Christ toward homosexuals, but you have the heart of Christ as well.

III. So what about same-sex marriage?

            A. The context of the passage.

I want to make sure that we see what God says about homosexuality in vv.26,27 in context. The key passage in this whole section is--

Ø      ROM 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Ø      ROM 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions--lesbianism among women, and homosexuality among men.

Why are homosexuals the way they are? Yes, there might be biological factors, or it might be related to some traumatic experience, or a family situation--that might explain the pull, the temptation--but it doesn’t excuse the sin. God says that Homosexuality is just one expression of man’s sinfulness, and at the root of man’s sinfulness is his exchanging the glory of God for his own selfish desires. It goes back to what we saw in v.28--man sets himself up as the judge of God and His ways and says, “Thumbs down, we want it our way!” They reject God and His glory.

You see, all of creation was meant to orbit around God and His glory. “The chief end of man is glorify God and enjoy Him forever!” The enjoyment of the glory of God was to be the center of the solar system of our souls, but beginning with Adam, the human race exchanged the glory of God as its highest good, for the enjoyment of its own sinful, selfish desires.

So God said, “Have at it. My judgment on the human race for trading My glory for sin, is to hand you over to your darkest desires. Go bear the fruit of your so-called ‘free will.’”

Ø      In vv.21-24: People exchange the truth about God for idols, and God hands them over.

Ø      In vv.25,26: People exchange the truth of God for a lie, and God hands them over.

Ø      In vv.26-31: People exchange what is natural sexually for what is perverted and unnatural, and God hands them over for even more perversion and destruction.

The world says that homosexuality is just an expression of our diversity. God says it is an expression of perversity from people who are morally bankrupt and in open rebellion against what they know in their hearts to be true!

We’re going to see in two weeks how some so-called Bible scholars try to twist this passage and others to mean that homosexuality is not sinful, but I want you to see from the context, that it is an expression of the wrath and judgment of God. People ask, “Is AIDS the judgment of God?” Folks, homosexuality itself is the judgment of God! Yes, it is a cause of His wrath, but it is also a punishment itself! What was a sinful attraction, God allows to become a twisted addiction.

Look at how Paul describes it:

Ø      ROM 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

Ø      ROM 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Ø      It is degrading = the word means dishonoring to the person, to his or her own body, to their families, to society, to marriage (Gov. McGreevy), and first and foremost, dishonoring to God the Creator.

Ø      It is unnatural = it doesn’t matter what people say, the Creator retains the right to define what is natural, and God says it is unnatural, it goes against nature, biology, and common sense: If everyone chose homosexuality, the human race would cease within a generation! (Although, of course, lesbians are now simply becoming impregnated from sperm donors. And I read this week about a lesbian couple who decided to have a child, so the one woman donated her eggs, which were impregnated by a male friend, and then the fertilized embryo was placed into the other woman as the surrogate mother. Problem is, the lesbians were divorcing and which of the three would get custody of the poor child??) Which leads to the third description of homosexuality--

Ø      It is indecent = means deformed, disfigured, shameful--it’s a monstrosity. The OT term was abomination. And it was a capital offense under Moses: death by stoning.

So let’s apply what we have seen to the question of same-sex marriage. It’s not a matter of whether same-sex marriages are right or wrong, there simply is no such thing. Two men or two women (or whatever other combination you might come up with) cannot be married in the sight of God because of--

            B. The nature of homosexuality..

We just saw that homosexuality is degrading, unnatural and indecent. But in Hebrews 13:4 says that marriage is honorable and the marriage bed is undefiled, meaning there is nothing indecent or shameful about the sexual union between a married man and woman. After God created Eve to be Adam’s wife and partner He said, “It is very good!” Marriage is honorable, and natural and decent--and homosexual unions don’t qualify. Therefore there is no such thing as homosexual marriage in the eyes of God, no matter what the state says.

            C. The nature of marriage.

Ø      MAT 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

Ø      MAT 19:5 and said,' For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'?

Ø      MAT 19:6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

It couldn’t be any more clear: Marriage is one woman and one man becoming one flesh by covenant and sexual union. That is the only kind of marriage that God creates, therefore any other union is not a marriage.

But it goes deeper than this. In Eph.5: 31,32, we learn that from the beginning, God created marriage to be an illustration of the loving intimate relationship between Jesus Christ and His church. Jesus is the Head of the church, and the church as His Bride, submits to His loving, sacrificial leadership. And this was meant to be illustrated in marriage: Two very different types of people--a man and a woman--are reconciled and united by covenant in a relationship that involves two different roles.

 

And the sexual union between a man and a woman in marriage is a pure and holy thing that represents the intimacy and love and joy--that exists between Christ and the Church. God’s glory is seen at its brightest in the relationship between Jesus Christ and His people, and the love and intimacy they share--marriage and the sexual union between a man and a woman was meant to express the glory of God!

Do you see how a same sex union exchanges the glory of God, for something that is a grotesque perversion.

* * *

Conviction and compassion--

Beloved, homosexuality is sin. I bring this up because we are going to see in two weeks that an entire theology has grown up to re-interpret Scripture to say that homosexuality is not a sin, as a matter of fact, it is endorsed, and we even see homosexual couples in the Bible. They point to Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, and even Jesus and the Apostle John.

We must respond with the Word, not our own reasoning, and we must respond with compassion, but that begins by calling sin, sin. If it’s not sin, then it doesn’t need forgiveness, and doesn’t need a Savior. We have a gospel for sinners!

Ø      1CO 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

Ø      1CO 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Ø      1CO 6:11 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 Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

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