Date: 13 Aug 2017
Text: Genesis 1:26-28
A couple of weeks ago the BBC showed a series of programmes ‘celebrating’ gay culture. These programmes probably came about as part of the 50th anniversary of the relaxing of the law relating to homosexual activity. In 1967 the law was relaxed a little to allow homosexual sexual activity between consenting males over the age of 21 and in private. That galvanised the gay community and led them to increase their campaigning to achieve greater rights for the gay community; a campaign that in the main has been very successful for them.
I recorded and watched one of these ‘celebratory’ programmes as it was titled “Does God Hate Queers?” (That’s a BBC word not mine!). In one scene taken from a US television news bulletin a demonstrator is shown waving a placard which says, “God hates fags”; the word “fag” being an American word for a gay or homosexual person. I wondered where that demonstrator got his information from; it certainly can’t have come from the Bible as there is nowhere in that wonderful Book that says such a thing.
So, this morning I want to explore, as briefly as possible, what the Bible does have to say about homosexuality, and try and disprove the words on that demonstrator’s placard. Much of what I have to say may be difficult for Bible believing Christians to deal with given that it is hard to reconcile their faith in Jesus Christ with the modern culture surrounding gay people. Sadly, it is also true to say that the Law in this country hasn’t helped since it appears that anyone who questions or criticises gay rights is regarded as being homophobic as a result of which they may be committing an offence.
Before discussing same sex relationships and the Biblical view on such relationships, I think it is important that we consider sexual orientation; that is, the feeling that some have that they are sexually attracted to a person of the same gender. The Bible has nothing to say on that issue and that may well be because no one ever considered it in the 1st century in the way that we do in the 21st century.
Many in the gay world suggest that David and Jonathan were involved in some sort of homosexual relationship and they believe that that provides a clear indication that there were homosexual feelings in Biblical times. The verses that they use to support these views come from 1 Samuel 20:16-17 which say, “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord call David's enemies to account.’ And Jonathan made David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.” The Message translation of the Bible puts some of that as saying, “Jonathan pledged his love and friendship for David”, a comment that I take as being slightly different in emphasis. There is a similar comment concerning David’s feelings for Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:25-26 where we read, “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” In both cases it seems to me that people are reading something into a passage that simply isn’t there. In previous sermons I have often mentioned the need to consider the context surrounding a passage, and that certainly applies here. David and Jonathan had become firm friends from the moment they first met to the extent that Jonathan gave up his claim to the throne by handing it to David. Their relationship became one of comradeship and affection and we know from 1 Samuel 18:1-4 that the relationship was based on a covenant made between them to support one another no matter what happened, and it did not mean that it led to a homosexual love affair. If this relationship did involve homosexuality then what are we to make of the comments in 1 Samuel 18:16, 20, 22 that “everyone loved David”?
The world seems obsessed with seeing love only in the erotic sense and not in the deeply caring sense that many would see and we need to understand that the word “love” carried with it a totally different meaning in the 10th century BC when these verses were written compared with what it means in the 21st century. If those verses in 1 & 2 Samuel do suggest that the David and Jonathan relationship was of a homosexual nature then what are we to make of the verses in the New Testament where Jesus commands us to “love one another”? Jesus originally gave that command to His disciples who were all male, so are we to interpret that as meaning that Jesus encouraged homosexual relationships between those disciples? I hardly think so.
Same Sex Relationships
The Creation account in Genesis makes it very clear that God created male and female, two distinct human beings and He made them to pro-create and populate the earth. However, before that union took place He also introduced marriage; a union that the Bible clearly states is between a man and a woman. In Genesis 2:23 we read that the man, Adam, said that this person whom God had created was “flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” We then read in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” That was how God created us and it is what He intended us to be.
It was shortly after all this took place that Eve persuaded Adam to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, an act that led to what many of us know as “The Fall”. Now, I read an article recently by someone who either doubted The Fall or doubted the impact that the Fall had on creation since she claimed that it was wrong to blame the Fall for all that followed! I simply cannot agree with such an assertion since it was The Fall that brought sin into the world and it is sin that has led to the expansion in homosexual activity and the clamour for gay rights. I realise that that view may not be too popular but that is my reading of what God is saying in the Bible.
Leviticus is the third book in the Bible and more or less “fleshes out” the Ten Commandments that may be found in Exodus 20. It is in two passages in Leviticus that the Bible makes it very clear what God thinks about homosexual activity. In Leviticus 18:22 we read, "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” The ESV uses the word “abomination” rather than “detestable”. And again we read in Leviticus 20:13a, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.” As before, the ESV uses the stronger word “abomination” rather than “detestable”. That verse goes on to suggest that the two people should be put to death and that is the only verse that I have found that comes close to suggesting that God hates gays. These verses in Leviticus do make it very clear though that God considers homosexual activity to be an abomination and therefore totally unacceptable; it is not what He created mankind for.
Paul, the great Apostle and Missionary, wrote a long letter to his friends in Rome. This was a letter that covered a lot of subjects and issues that they had raised with him. There was also the question of homosexual activity that he felt he needed to rebuke them for. The overall purpose of this letter was to show the Roman church that they needed salvation through Jesus Christ since God regarded them as being sinners and therefore totally unrighteous; i.e. unworthy to be in His awesome presence. The people faced the wrath of God because they denied His work of creation and turned to worshipping idols and living lives of total wickedness. Paul had some strong words to say about all this and we read in Romans 1:24-27, “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is for ever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” When Paul talks of “natural” and “unnatural” he is referring to the way God created mankind and what he intended for them. These “unnatural” acts are not what God intended and so are regarded by Him as shameful and sinful. Before we move on we need to consider this thought of “natural” and “unnatural”. Gay people will reasonably suggest that their sexual activities are natural to them and therefore they cannot see a problem. That thinking misses the point. The natural and unnatural that the Bible talks about is that which was decided or decreed by God. God sets standards and sadly sexually active gay people do not meet those standards and are therefore regarded by God as being sinners.
You may wonder what the words “God gave them over” are all about. Quite simply it was God’s way of passing judgement on them for their sin of denying creation, disobeying Him and worshipping idols instead of Him. At the end of that passage we read that homosexuals will receive “the due penalty for their error”. An earlier version of the NIV uses the word “perversion” instead of “error” which may put their action into even greater context. It isn’t totally clear what the penalty will be although The Message puts it this way, “Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men – all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it – emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.” There have been other penalties that the gay community have suffered although I won’t go into those as they are mainly my own opinions!
I have searched as best I can to find any reference to God hating gays and cannot find a single reference to such a thought. There is no doubt from close reading of the Bible that God hates what gay people do in their sexual activity as it is not what He ordained for mankind, but hating the act is a long way from hating the perpetrators. Those who are involved in homosexual activity are condemned as sinners just as are murderers, thieves, adulterers, blasphemers along with any number of other sinful groups. The important thing for us to remember is that “...God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Consequently He loves all of us, warts and all. It is a cliché but true nevertheless that God hates the sin but loves the sinner and He wants nothing more than for us to repent of our sins, place our faith in Jesus Christ and come before Him as His children.
The answer to the question “Does God hate gays?” just has to be NO! Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God hates homosexuals; what it does say is that He hates the sexual activity that they get up to and if they continue with those activities then they will be condemned as sinners. However, that is a long way from saying that He hates them since all sinners stand condemned regardless of their particular sins.
I must close by saying the views that I have expressed here today are my own and are based on what I believe the Bible has to say together with my views on the current state of affairs in modern society. Some may call me a bigot or homophobic which is their right, just as it is my right to express my views by remaining faithful to the Word of God and Jesus Christ.