SANCTIFYING THE SIN OF SODOMY
By Keith Malcomson
Lev.18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
It was not too long ago that homosexuality was considered a sin in secular society. The political, legal, religious and secular realms of society had clear lines and boundaries laid down concerning the practice of homosexuality. If it came to light, a practising homosexual risked imprisonment. Yet in one generation society has changed to such a degree that militant homosexuality (although a minority group) has become a power with which to be reckoned. Today in western society to simply disagree with the practice of homosexuality, or to even personally and privately hold differing convictions, draws the frown of the legal profession. The legal threat against those who do not bend and yield to homosexuality as a normal and healthy lifestyle is increasing to such a degree that very soon every pulpit and preacher in the West will become a target.
Although homosexuality has been practised throughout the ages in secret and even at certain depraved points in history become acceptable in public, we have now reached an unprecedented pitch. For the very first time in British history, four to eleven year olds are being taught in state-run schools, that to have two mummy’s, or two daddy’s is normal and acceptable. Books like Tango Makes Three, about two “gay” penguins who raise a chick together; King & King, about two princes who get married; and The Sissy Duckling, about a homosexual duck who is a big sissy and proud of it, are being used to brainwash and evangelise the young. This is the very first generation in British society to be taught that this is an acceptable option. What is going to be the fruit of this? We are sowing the wind but shall shortly reap a whirlwind. Already a white–haired generation in our nations, who only twenty years ago frowned on the acceptability of homosexuality, are now strongly supporting and promoting it.
But most shocking of all is that this very year a change of attitude, compromising conviction and belief has gone public within so-called Evangelical circles. World Vision, a supposed international Evangelical mission which is one of the biggest charities in America, announced early in the year that it was going to hire homosexuals on its staff, but after a strong outcry from Evangelicals with the loss of financial support they revoked their decision. American Southern Baptists have been dialoguing with practising homosexuals who profess to be born-again. One of these homosexuals, Matthew Vines, published a book this year called, God and the Gay Christian. Although there is no professed doctrinal change of stance by the Southern Baptists, yet by sitting down with such men and dialoguing with them, the written scriptures are compromised. Ken Wilson who is pastor of the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, also published a book this year called, A Letter to My Congregation: An evangelical pastor's path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender in the company of Jesus. Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church, Australia, has been very weak on his views on this issue for some years. Although strongly biblical in his doctrinal views he has been willing to dialogue privately with homosexuals and has not implemented biblical church discipline on the issue within his own large mega-church gatherings. His lack of clarity on the issue is disturbing. Compromise is blossoming under the guise of ‘being relevant’.
The clear teaching of I Corinthians chapter 5 and 6, is that we are “not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator…with such an one no not to eat” (5:11). Fornication includes every form of sexual sin including homosexuality. We are commanded to judge anyone in the church, called a brother, who carries on like this. By “judge” we mean, to weigh up the actions and to come to a decision, followed by action (v12-13). We are instructed that if such a person will not repent they must be put out of the church (5:2, 7, 9, 11, 13). You are not even to “keep company” with them, meaning to mix together, to keep company, to fellowship or be with them. He explains further by saying you are not even to eat with such a one (v11). This is for the purpose of making them ashamed, to bring them to repentance and to restore them to fellowship. We are not called to dialogue with them in order to share mutual understanding on the subject. Any contact should be with the purpose of wisely showing them their sin and calling them to repentance.
But this is distinct from our actions towards homosexuals in the world. God judges sinners in the world (v13) meaning that we have no right to put them out of church gatherings or to avoid eating with them in the world. We are called to separation not segregation! We are called to evangelize homosexuals with great wisdom and sincere compassion. Name-calling, rude evangelism and an offensive manner is not at all acceptable or biblical. We have a gospel that saves the homosexual, makes him a vital member of the church and which will give him victory over sin.
The Sin of Sodomy
The practice of homosexuality has traditionally been called sodomy because this was the sin of Sodom in the days of Lot that brought down God’s righteous judgement (Gen.19). However there are those in our contemporary age who are doing theological somersaults to try to prove that Sodom’s sin was not homosexuality. Some ridiculously change it to the sin of inhospitality. It is vital in this hour that true born-again believers settle concretely, clearly and accurately in their own minds and hearts what the Bible actually teaches. It is a fundamental essential that the written scriptures must be interpreted correctly without twisting them to mean something that denies God’s own thought and we must interpret them free from contemporary cultural (worldly) pressure and influence. Fundamental to the whole discussion on homosexuality is to ask ourselves what the sin of Sodom was.
First of all we are told that “the men of the city…compassed the house round, both old and young” and called unto Lot “Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (v4-5). The word “know” (yada) which is used here can be used in a variety of ways but its primary usage in Genesis is in the context of sexual intercourse and is used in this way a number of times (Gen.4:1, 17, 25; 24:16; 38:26). This word in the text is also clear in its context. Here we have old and young men desiring to “know” these two angels who appeared in the form of men. This gang of sodomites came at night to publically and knowingly rape these visitors. Lot tries to protect them by offering his two daughters which had “not known man” (v8). This only makes the sodomites angrier and they say, “now will we deal worse with thee, than with them” (v9). Why did this stir their anger? Why did they not prefer the young ladies? Because they were homosexuals and Lot’s offer seemed like a mockery to them. Notice as well that they intended to treat the men badly but would now treat Lot worse. It is also strange indeed that Lot’s daughters had not “known” men yet in verse 14 we are told about “his sons in law, which married his daughters.” Unless he had other married daughters, which is possible, it means these sons-in-law were probably homosexuals as well.
The New Testament also verifies that homosexuality brought God’s judgment. We are told that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha gave “themselves over to fornication” (Jude 1:7). In the Bible fornication is a broad term that includes every type of sexual sin. But to clarify more specifically, Jude goes further in stating what type of sexual sin: “…and going after strange flesh.” Strange flesh means other flesh than is normal. These cities were addicted to and given over to homosexuality. They were not only uncontrollable in their sin but also unnatural or against nature in their sin. He goes further in saying that they were “set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” which Peter also confirms (II Pet.2:6-8). Paul says “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Rom.1:27). This could not be clearer. Homosexuality is against nature (1:26).
In a list that Paul gives of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God he includes “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (I Cor.6:9-10). The word “effeminate” means soft. It was the word used in the first century for a weak passive homosexual and often one caught up in abuse or prostitution—either willingly or unwillingly. While God’s Word takes account of innocent parties it will not however justify a man who remains a victim to such abuse and who does not do all in his power to be free. The “abusers of themselves with mankind” is the term used to describe a homosexual relationship. The same word is used in I Tim.1:9-10 when explaining that the law was not made for the righteous but for sinners. The purpose of the law is to reveal and define sin and to also manifest anything “contrary to sound doctrine.” Included in the list of those for whom the law of God was made are those that “defile themselves with mankind.” Paul has no qualms in stating clearly that men who sleep with men or women who sleep with women are committing sin forbidden by the law; that they are not saved and that they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Saved, Sanctified and Satisfied
To lessen the seriousness of such sin is to exclude homosexuals from salvation. A consciousness of our sinful state, whatever it may be in particulars, makes us run to Christ in repentance for salvation and forgiveness. Christ came for the sick; not for those who think themselves well, innocent, normal or above and beyond God’s holy law. Those who try to sanctify homosexuality by twisting scripture, reinterpreting Bible stories, inventing new translations, by undermining the holiness of God’s law, by enlarging the grace of God at the expense of His holiness, and emphasising grace and love amongst Christians at the expense of truth and holiness, are on a one way ticket to Hell. A man who excuses sin is inexcusable. To lessen the seriousness of such sin, to sanitize it, to sanctify the sin without the act of repentance, and to perfume it with religiosity will not get you to Heaven. By doing such you make the work of the Cross of non-effect. You make Christ to die in vain. You proclaim that your holiness is sufficient and that your wisdom is wiser than God’s wisdom.
However, Christ died for sinners. Every one of us must come to Him as Hell-deserving sinners. There is no difference between adulterers, fornications and homosexuals before God. Homosexuality is no worse than a man sleeping with a woman outside of wedlock. Neither is it greater or more powerful than drug addiction or drunkenness. It is not the unforgivable sin, neither is it an exception amongst sexual sins. Those who are trying to sanitize homosexuality by giving room to theories of a gay gene are utterly confused. Give room to the idea of a homosexual Christian who says he cannot help himself and you will have to allow Christian adulterers who cannot help their sin in the church. Behind them will follow Christian liars, Christian murderers and Christian thieves! Let an individual church rethink the traditional and obvious teaching of the Bible concerning the sin of homosexuality and I promise you that every form of sin will sweep into that church. We don’t need to change the church to accommodate the sinner; God changes the sinner to accommodate His Church.
Paul says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor.6:11). Some of those in the church at Corinth had been “effeminate” and, “abusers of themselves with mankind,” but were now saved. “…such were some of you” but no longer. How did they get free? The same way as fornicators, idolaters and adulterers: through repentance and faith in Christ’s finished work on the Cross. They were “washed” in the Blood of Jesus. That is what made them clean and acceptable to God—not a redefinition of sin. These men who were once sexually unclean were now “sanctified” and made holy before God and endowed with a new nature and with new desires. They were also “justified”—just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. The stain of sin was removed. All guilt, shame and regret were dealt with. Now dressed in perfect righteousness, a new creature in Christ, they were vital members of the church not second-grade, weaker, more vulnerable specimens of a Christian that don’t quite fit in the church. In salvation they were made members of the body of Christ, living stones in the building and a part of a chaste and holy bride for Christ. Like every other saved sinner they have a testimony of the dark pit they were dug out of but now they have a new testimony concerning Christ’s power in saving and delivering them.
They are now satisfied in Christ. They are satisfied in salvation. They are satisfied with the truth of God.