In the last few decades, it seems a lot of people have come ‘out of the closet’. Maybe it would be better to say the closet was replaced by a community. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals now come together to support one another and seek acceptance. Celebrities, siblings and children are being open about who they are choosing to love as their significant other and what gender they identify themselves with.
In the past, people struggled more with determining whether “coming out” was the right action for them. Some lived a hidden life to avoid the judgments from others. Will the reaction be one of rejection or acceptance? They have already felt isolation and have been affected by harsh opinions from society. Homosexuals have been called abnormal, disgusting, sexually deviant, and immoral. They may be considered sinful by religious organizations, criminals by intolerant governments, disliked by those who do not even know them, and sadly even becoming the target of deadly hate crimes. They wonder how their parents, brothers, sisters, friends, classmates and co-workers will act when their true, self-identity is revealed. Some loving family members may even consider it a “phase”; the person is just confused and will come around eventually. A mother may believe that once her son finds the right girl, he’ll become “straight”, as if it were a decision he made and that he could make another choice any time he felt like it. Overall, with all the trouble and risk associated being non-heterosexual, why would someone voluntarily elect to be so ostracized? Is this simply attention seeking behavior? Perhaps for some. If the person cannot bear the thought of letting their parents or community know their real selves, life can become a game of ‘cover-ups’, with fear that the truth will be disclosed. One thing is certain, everyone has an opinion on homosexuality and more often than not, the emotional response is strong, even extreme. How many families have been broken apart by it? How many children have been disowned?
Many years ago I met a man that was gay, a friend of a friend. I had heard him talking before seeing his appearance. His voice was that of an older woman. With that quick introduction, I believed that homosexuality must be based on biology and hormones. The balance of biochemistry had shifted him from having the masculine characteristics that would be expected, and, instead, clearly feminine elements were being expressed. He didn’t make a choice about this; he was made that way. Just as every one of us is a unique combination of chemistry and biology beautifully brought to life, this was just one more element of the diversity of natural human development. God made each of us special, without mistakes.
Christian and Muslim believers may contend that “homosexual behavior is sinful”. These people may not intend to disrespect anyone, but they firmly hold on to what they feel the Bible or the Qu ‘ran teaches on the subject. Their level of acceptance may go so far as saying that judgment for how we each of us acts is to be left in the hands of God or Allah, but they may continue to think of gays and lesbians as sinners. Christians may cite sections in the Bible as the basis for the conclusions they draw. On that, my thought is, “No, I don’t think that is what the Bible says.”
One section of the Bible often quoted relative to homosexuality is I Corinthians, Chapter 6 verse 9&10, New Living Translation).
9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality.
10 Or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.
The judgement on homosexuality is equal to the judgement on greedy people and drunks or those that cheat people. There were people acting terribly in the Church of Corinth; there was fighting, arguments and jealousies. Some of the people were saying that they can do anything they want and still be considered followers of Christ (I Corinthians 6:12, New Living Translation). But this section talks about how not everything is good for you and gives a warning about not becoming a slave to your behaviors. Taking parts of the Bible and magnifying them without giving consideration to the context in which they were written can lead to misinterpretation. If I look only at the first verse of I Corinthians Chapter 7, it says “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” or “It is good to abstain from sexual relations” depending on the translation (King James Version & New Living Translation). In verse 7 of the same chapter of the letter Paul is sending to the new Christians in Corinth, he wishes that all men were like himself, able to resist sexual desires. But he knows most cannot have that much control over their passions, so he basically tells people to get married so you are not tempted into immoral actions. In the verse right after the one condemning certain types of people to be excluded from God’s Kingdom, it talks about how Jesus died for sinners (I Corinthians 6:11) and then in the last verse of the chapter, a summary is provided.
11 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
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I had always heard that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because homosexuality was rampant in those cities. But reading Genesis 18:20 (King James Version), the Lord said “their sin is very grievous.” He didn’t specify, but God and the angels looked long and hard to find at least ten righteous people so that the City of Sodom could be spared. In Genesis 19:5, men come looking for the angels that had arrived to save Lot’s family and the men at the door want to rape the visitors. Lot was even willing to turn over his two virgin daughters to the evil men outside his door in exchange for the protection of the angelic men within his home. How horrible?
The real answer about the sin of Sodom popped out at me when reading Ezekiel Chapter 16, 49-52 (NLT), spoken to Jerusalem.
49 Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.
50 She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.
51 Even Samaria did not commit half your sins. You have done far more detestable things than your sisters ever did. They seem righteous compared to you.
52 Shame on you! Your sins are so terrible that you make your sisters seem righteous, even virtuous.
So, some of the biggest things that the Sodomites did wrong was not caring for the poor and being lazy. In the KJV it said the people of Sodom were “haughty”. I had to look that one up. Haughty means arrogant and disdainful and treating people with scorn. This doesn’t say anything about sexual orientation. Societies who judge others as unworthy of God’s love instead of extending it, are falling into the trap that the people of Sodom were in. In Ezekiel Chapter 18, there are many encouraging words from the Lord regarding sins of the soul, contrasted with doing what is right and lawful, and the life and death consequences of each of our actions. It talks about how we are each responsible for our own thoughts and whether we choose to be righteous or wicked. This section lifts up God’s way of dealing with us as just. We will each be judged according to our ways.
There is sure a whole lot said on the internet on the subject of homosexuality. I am sure you could find opinions and convictions that line up with a full spectrum of feelings on the topic. What I’m sharing here are my own individual thoughts. I can find many speaking out in a similar fashion and many others who would contradict me. I found thoughtful words from Janet Edmonds in “The Bible Doesn’t Say That Homosexuality is a Sin”. I found heartfelt words from Matthew Vines. There are people that say you cannot change the interpretation of the word of God just to fit the current changes in culture. But you have to admit that the hateful and abusive culture of the world needs changing, thousands of years ago and today. Things are pretty messed up. Knowing that God gets personal with us as individuals, He wants to work on the hearts of each of us, in whatever unique situation we find ourselves in. He wants us to be humble and have a teachable spirit. He wants us not to judge others “lest we be judged.” He wants each of us to know that we are loved by Him. God knows what is best for us and wants us to figure that out through a relationship with Him.
I feel for young people still in school and trying to figure out who they will be when they grow up. If feeling attracted to the same sex is part of their emotional tapestry, or if they feel a conflict in the body they were born with, how much more difficult those years must be for them? Kids can be so mean to each other. Adults can be just as mean. Churches and other religious organizations are making policies regarding human sexuality and it is disappointing when it seems the decisions are based on creating laws that exclude people and don’t make allowance for acceptance and love for one another. Sometimes the rules become impersonal and take away the rights of individual communities to listen for God’s guidance for themselves. Should people attracted to same-sex partners really be lumped together with ‘abusers’ and ‘thieves’, and other evil people who won’t have a share in the blessings of God’s kingdom? Is being a member of the LGBT community really a sin?
What is sin? God has tried over and over again to help us easily recognize it. He gave Moses the Ten Commandments to share with his people. Ten rules to live by. That doesn’t seem so hard but for hundreds of years, people struggled with that covenant. So Jesus comes. He distills the commandments down to the essentials: love God with all your heart and treat others the way you want to be treated. Wow, it sounds so easy! Are we able to do it? When a man loves God and loves another man in a committed relationship, is he disobeying what Jesus said? If he lies and tells people he is not a homosexual when in his heart he knows the truth, wouldn’t he then be breaking one of God’s Commandments? Let’s say he never held an evil thought toward others and trusted and listened to God throughout his life. Is this man going to Hell? When God looks into a woman’s heart and sees that she holds great love for Him and also observes the love she has for another woman, does God condemn her? I say, “No, if the love in her heart is what is guiding her actions, then God is pleased with her.”
What if we looked at this from the perspective that individuals are placed specifically into our lives as part of a test of our ability to follow God’s desires? Are we all able to love God and each other unconditionally? Or is our ability to follow the example of Jesus’ love only in full force when our circumstances make it easy? Are we only able to fully love those who we feel live the right way? Life on Earth is filled with challenges, individual situations that drive our actions and beliefs. The difficulties each of us face are as diverse as the people in the world itself. If you or part of your family is impacted by homosexuality, don’t let the feelings it causes turn you away from God or let it interfere with relationships grounded in love. Ask God how to respond and follow through on the messages He writes in your heart. Through all things, let your thoughts and actions please God. In God and by God, every single one of us is wonderfully made, equally lovable, equally special. We all have a job to do in God’s Kingdom; we need to love and respect one another. It is also important that we hold love and respect for ourselves, to develop the uniqueness that makes us into the person God intended us to be.
We’ll have many people cross our paths in our life’s journey. There are people that sin by committing harmful, evil acts which cause emotional hurts, pain and suffering or physical death. The Bible teaches that God will deal with the wicked. If good people start doing evil, they must be put to death, while wicked people who start to do right can save themselves from punishment. God says we are to give up our evil ways and think pure thoughts (Ezekiel 18:26-28). We are able to find peace when we surrender ourselves into God’s hands and when we produce the fruits of the spirit, against which there is no law (Galatians 5:23). For each person that is in our lives, we get to decide how we will treat them. We may be asked to support them, pray for them, help them, care for them, no matter our differences. We are not the ones to judge, we cannot see the state of someone’s heart. God expects nothing less from us than for us to love one another just as Jesus has taught, the way He loves us.