Is the subject of homosexuality a necessary part of an assemblys teaching?
This lifestyle is flaunted on the streets. The public media paints this as part of the mainstream of living. The brunt of the effort to change societys thinking assails the young especially. They are particularly susceptible to the pressure of peers, the usual curiosity of maturing, and the onslaught of prurient literature and web sites.
The Bible addresses this subject. To be fully equipped to live as believers and testify effectively in this world, we need "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Paul assures us that the Scriptures equip us for every need (2 Timothy 3:17), and his letters exemplify the application of truth to current needs.
This is an emotional subject, so we may tend to avoid it, overreact to it, or fail to understand the devious nature of the attack. As comfortable or appealing as it may be to either avoid the subject or handle it with a "hit and run" approach, an assembly must provide guidance and teaching on the many issues relevant to this subject.
Biblically speaking, why is such teaching important?
We are facing what every generation faces. The world will always challenge the authority of Scripture. The skill with which the enemy engages the battle constantly increases.
At issue are foundational truths. Is God the Creator or are we cosmic accidents? Does morality exist? Does society or does a wise God determine ethics? Are social institutions a Creators design or merely human expedients for survival? Is headship an outmoded tradition or Gods design for the honor of His Son as Savior and Superintendent of every divine purpose? Is marriage merely one possible way of experiencing gratifying emotions or is it the design of God to portray the beauty of His eternal purpose for His Son and the church?
Valid scientific studies show the human benefits of these traditional values; inevitably, other studies purport to contradict this. Ultimately, the authority of Gods Word is the bulwark of these and all truths.
If we understand the subtlety, boldness, and vigor of the attack, we must respond. Positive teaching that establishes these truths is primary. We cannot assume that affirming these truths is superfluous. Clearly, defining the nature of the sin of homosexuality is not an overreaction.
What is the Bibles teaching regarding this subject?
Some assert the Bible merely condemns such behavior outside a "committed relationship" (compare Gen. 19:5; Jdg. 19:22). Because the word "abomination" is linked with idolatry, some maintain the clear statements regarding this behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13) only legislate against idolatrous immorality, not the behavior per se. The context of both these Leviticus passages is wider than idolatry and involves any behavior that violates the sanctity of marriage (see the 7th commandment). Calling them an abomination shows how detestable such acts are to God (compare 1 Sam 15:23).
Pauls three references on the subject (Rom 1:23-27; 1 Cor 6: 9; 1 Tim 1:10) are crucial. In Romans, Paul addresses male with male and female with female relations. Both are against nature, violating Gods purpose in creation; they epitomize moral degradation. In First Corinthians, the words "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind" are relevant to the subject and express behavior foreign to Christian standards: "such were some of you." The first two terms of First Timothy chapter 1, verse 10 include every form of homosexuality and violate Gods moral law (v. 9). Such acts are sinful.
How can we fulfill this responsibility effectively?
Those who teach the young or work with younger believers must be prepared to handle this subject appropriately. Bible Readings on related subjects or relevant passages should include considered comments on this topic.
At some point in gospel meetings or gatherings for Christian teaching, believers or unbelievers who have this tendency, who have imbibed societys thinking on the subject, or who have committed such acts will be present. On some occasions, parents whose hearts are broken because of the intrusion of this sin into their family will be present. Harsh denunciations of this sin, expressions of personal revulsion, or snide references to the common idioms for this behavior are insensitive and unbecoming. Any form of speech that offends the moral sensitivities of the listeners or that compromises the dignity of Gods Word and sacred truth is inappropriate. Any statements deemed as irrational or merely emotional are counterproductive; the compelling authority of Scripture is our sole basis of persuasion.
Compassionate teaching regarding the life-transforming power of Gods grace offers hope for those enslaved by sin. The sanctifying power of Gods Word, of the indwelling Spirit, and of abiding in Christ can deliver from lust. None of us have avoided some experience with lust and sins slavery; we cannot be condescending.
In no case should our aversion to the subject limit our interest or expressions of loving help to those engaging in such behavior. Neither our words nor acts should build an emotional or social wall between "us and them." Fulfilling our responsibility to care for others, reach all with the gospel, maintain a godly testimony, and preserve holiness in our own lives requires divine wisdom and power.