Are you prepared to stand by the clear teachings of Scripture when pressured to accept homosexuality? Even from those who profess to be Christians? In a world that is continually pushing acceptance of immoral lifestyles, Reformed young people must be ready to take a stand for the truth and humbly bear the label of “intolerant.”
As a student at Grand Valley State University, the need for a strong defense against homosexuality has been made very clear to me. GVSU takes great pride in its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center, which is devoted to making homosexuals feel a sense of unity and inclusion on campus. Homosexuals feel persecuted because they often receive harsh opposition when they “come out of the closet.” The LGBT club commonly places signs along the sidewalks at GVSU that attempt to arouse sympathy for homosexuals by listing rates of depression and suicide among homosexual students. These signs list the effects of this so-called persecution, but who is responsible for it?
Rev. Doug VanDoren, a local pastor for the United Church of Christ whose congregation includes many homosexuals, addressed this question in a recent LGBT-sponsored speech at GVSU. Though many religions are opposed to homosexuality, VanDoren claimed that the blame for their persecution rests on Christianity because it has singled out homosexuals more than any other religion. When Christians are confronted by homosexuals looking for tolerance, he said, they often respond with “I can’t accept you because I am a Christian.” Because Christians as a whole are more outspoken against homosexuality than other religions and make up a large portion of the West Michigan population, hearing this response makes local homosexuals feel that everyone is against them. VanDoren urged Christians to respond with, “I can’t accept your lifestyle because it goes against what I believe.” He encouraged this response because in this way the individual takes personal responsibility for his stance and also leaves the matter open to discussion rather than simply “hiding behind” the masses of Christianity.
Granted, VanDoren’s alternative sounds appealing in that it encourages taking personal responsibility for our beliefs, but our response should not end there. When we are approached by a homosexual, we should not merely state what we believe, but bring to them the clear teaching of Scripture. We must let them know that their sin is wretched, but that there is grace is sufficient to deliver them. We must come with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
The need to bring them the gospel may seem obvious, but we must be conscious of the fact that the false church also comes to homosexuals in the name of the gospel. They come with a perverse gospel that proclaims “God is love,” but completely ignores the equally important truth that “God is just” (Zeph. 3:5) In his justice, God must punish sin. The “God is love” gospel denies this truth by saying that God blindly loves all people, regardless of their lifestyle. When presented with the gospel of the false church and the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the homosexual will find it much more appealing to follow the “Christian” who allows them to wallow in their sin.
Though the false church may not openly say God does not hate sin, they simply undermine his justice by saying that homosexuality is not sinful. When I asked VanDoren how he explained the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he claimed that God destroyed them on the basis of their inhospitality to the angels, not their homosexuality. This is clearly not the case! God told Abraham that he was going to destroy these cities because of the cry of their great sin that had risen before the angels even arrived in the city (Gen. 18:16ff). The very purpose of the angels’ visit was to rescue Lot from the coming destruction (Gen. 19:15). Further, Jude explicitly states that “giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh” was the reason for the destruction of these two cities (Jude 1:7).
In response to this verse, VanDoren first claimed that looking to the original Greek text would show that this was not the meaning of the verse at all. Perhaps knowing that this was a false claim, he continued by saying Jude was simply an extreme writer at an extreme point in the history of the church, and therefore his words should not be taken too seriously. In VanDoren’s response, we see a characteristic that frequently accompanies false doctrine: the denial of the infallibility of Scripture.
Not only did he discredit the epistle of Jude, but he also openly stated that the Old Testament can be ignored because it is no longer relevant to the church. God’s law against homosexuality, he claimed, was simply a part of the “holiness code” that was meant to set the nation of Israel apart from the surrounding cults. Laws forbidding homosexuality, therefore, can be thrown out along with other Old Testament laws such as abstaining from pork. While it is true that these laws served to separate the children of Israel from the heathen world, this was not why God condemned homosexuality.
Homosexuality is condemned in the seventh commandment, which forbids all sexual uncleanness (see Lord’s Day 41). The Ten Commandments were given by God not only to set God’s people apart from the world, but because he is holy and requires holiness of his people as well. In Leviticus 18 God describes many implications of the seventh commandment, knowing that the Israelites were like children and would try to find loopholes in the law if he did not list examples in great detail. In Leviticus 18:22 God condemns homosexuality directly by saying “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” The word abomination carries with it the idea of an intense loathing. This is how God sees homosexuality, and this is how we must see it as well.
When others hear that this is our stance on homosexuality, we must be prepared to be labeled as “intolerant.” VanDoren is a prime example of the growing movement within the realm of Christianity to break away from the “out-dated” and “closed-minded” views on homosexuality and to work towards inclusion of unrepentant sinners. I have also seen in the workplace that even those people of the world who are not directly connected to homosexuality in any way will still defend it against Christian intolerance. These people know they have sin in their own lives, and that Scripture commands that they repent of their sins as well. They stand in defense of homosexuality because they do not want anyone to tell them they have to give up their own sins either.
In light of all this, it is important for believers to be prepared for the situations where a firm stance against homosexuality is necessary. We must approach the homosexual with humility, as sinners saved by grace, knowing that we all have a sinful nature and the only thing keeping us from vile sins like homosexuality is the grace of God. We must show them from Scripture that their sin is an abomination before God, but that there is freedom in the cross of Christ. In order for our witness to be effective, they must see in our lives the joy that can be found only in a sinner saved by grace. The false church and the unbelieving world are united against us, so be prepared for ridicule. Pray for boldness and the grace to be a witness to the beauty of the life of a redeemed sinner.