II. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This is the second in a four-part series about the issue of homosexuality. Be sure to read Part 1 (“What Does The Bible Say About Homosexuality?”), Part 3 (“Politically, Should the Church Just Stay Out of This Issue?”), and Part 4 (“What Is the Summit’s Stance Toward Homosexulity?”). This series is modified from my notes from our latest Equip forum, whose videos—with a personal testimony from a friend of mine—you can view herehere, and here.

WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH IT?  WHY IS IT CALLED AN ‘ABOMINATION?’

The objection here is basically this: “They aren’t hurting anybody. If people love each other and enjoy that sort of thing, why does it matter?”

1) God’s laws are never arbitrary, but that doesn’t mean they will always readily make sense to us.

God says all kinds of things to us that initially baffle us. If God never offends you, you have to ask whether you are really hearing Him or remaking Him in your own image. When He offends us, we have to decide whether He is Lord or we are. If you’re the kind of person who has to agree with God before you’ll obey Him, I don’t think you “understand” lordship!

2) The creation has a design, and the Bible tells us that the Creator designed sex for a very specific purpose (1 Cor 6:16–18; Ephesians 5:31–32; Genesis 2:24–25).

Sex is a profound union of two people. That unity is total, and one of complements (different beings):

Sex: A Total Unity

Sex is an organic union of two bodies that is meant to be matched by union in every other way— emotional, financial, etc.—and that for life. That union is ultimately what produces more life. When a husband and wife have intercourse, they are renewing their total-life commitment. They are literally opening up themselves to one another. The two, both separate, become part of an organic whole. The word that is used for their union in Genesis 2:24 (“and they shall become one flesh”) is e’had, the same word used for the “oneness” of the Trinity (Deut 6:4).

Sex: A Unity Of Complements

In Genesis  2:18, the Hebrew word for the woman is e’zer, and is a very difficult word to translate. It literally means, “like opposite him.”[1] Eve was like Adam, but also very different. God created the sexes very differently. We all know examples, right? My wife is built differently, she processes things differently, she has enough pillows on our bed to put Bed, Bath and Beyond out of business.

These differences are by design. Each of us reveals a different and complementary dimension of the image of God, and we are a fuller picture of the image of God together than we are separately. God designed marriage that way because He wanted us to learn to love “the other,” and not merely someone just like us. A lot of philosophers recently have discussed the importance of learning to love the “other” in society—without that kind of love, they say, we tend to gravitate toward people like us (of our same culture, same education), and then to justify ourselves by excluding and looking down on people who are unlike us.[2] Marriage is a way to teach us, in the most intimate ways, to love and appreciate and be patient with the “other.”

Kathy Keller says,

“(Biblical) marriage is a full embrace of the other sex. We accept and yet struggle with the gendered ‘otherness’ of our spouse, and in the process, we grow and flourish in ways otherwise impossible. Because, as Genesis says, male and female are “like-opposite” each other – both radically different and yet incomplete without each other. I have had homosexual friends, both men and women, tell me that one of the factors that made homosexual love attractive to them was how much easier it was than dealing with someone of a different sex. I have no doubt this is true. A person of one’s own sex is not as likely to have as much Otherness to embrace. But God’s plan for married couples involves embracing the otherness to make us unified, and that can only happen between a man and a woman. Even at the atomic level, all the universe is held together by the attraction of positive and negative forces. The embrace of the Other, as it turns out, really is what makes the world go around.” [3]

BUT AREN’T PEOPLE ‘BORN’ THIS WAY?
HOW CAN SOMETHING THAT COMES ‘NATURALLY’ TO SOMEONE BE CALLED ‘WRONG’?

What we’re talking about in this question is “same sex attraction” (SSA), or being sexually attracted to people of the same sex. What causes people to experience SSA has been much studied, and without a lot of really conclusive evidence. A lot of factors contribute—genetic pre-dispositions, environments, past experiences, etc.

I have heard enough testimonies from people who struggle with SSA to know that for many of them, in their perception the attraction was never a “choice.” What caused it was unclear. But I want simply to point out that the genetic disposition toward something does not mean it is morally neutral. Studies have shown connections between genetics and—to name just a few—alcoholism, violence, and rape. Personally, I am genetically inclined towards selfishness. But we would never say that these things are morally neutral.

Christians call this the “doctrine of original sin.” We don’t have to choose sin; we come by it honestly. But Christian morality is not established by our genetic dispositions; instead, it is established by the Creator’s design, which stands in judgment over our dispositions.[4]

CAN’T WE JUST AGREEABLY DISAGREE ON THIS ONE?

We can always disagree in love. But the question that is being asked here is, “Christians disagree on baptism, worship styles, Calvinism, speaking in tongues, whether or not it is okay to see R-rated movies, how far is too far before you’re married, and scores of other secondary issues, yet they exist with these divided opinions—even within the same churches and ministries. Can’t we place this issue in that same category?”

Here’s why we don’t believe this is an issue Christians can disagree on and still stand together in fellowship (as they do on so many other issues): We believe that the God we claim to love considers this practice to be an abomination to Him (Romans 1:26–27), and we can’t say that we love God and have fellowship with what He finds abominable.

Think of it this way: What do you personally find abominable? Could you be in open fellowship with someone who practiced that very thing? We love both God and the homosexual too much to turn our head to what angers the one and destroys the soul of the other.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be good neighbors, loving and protecting the homosexual. Jesus told us to love our neighbors, and that includes homosexuals. When a man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer was, essentially, “Whoever is in pain right in front of you” (Luke 10:25–37).


[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15 (Waco, Tex.: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 88. See Tim and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 266.

[2] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996). Quoted in Tim and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 181.

[3] Tim and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 182. Emphasis original.

[4] “We like to think of ourselves as free moral agents, choosing rationally among possible actions, but Scripture unmasks that cheerful illusion and teaches us that we are deeply infected by the tendency to self-deception” (Hays, “Awaiting the Redemption ,” 10).