Homosexuality: Sin or Orientation?Pastor Thomas H. Trapp
Our lifestyle is not judged on the basis of some genetic connection, but we are judged on the basis of God's commandments.
In Letters to the Editor of a large university student newspaper, a man wrote, "Just this Sunday I was accepted as a member of [name of Christian church] as an openly gay person."
Some clergy today are publicly challenging other clergy to join ranks and fully embrace openly practicing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people into their congregation as brothers and sisters in Christ.
"For too long," claim more than 60 Midwestern church leaders (mostly Christian clergy), "homosexual persons have been condemned and mistreated by the followers of Jesus Christ."
"Sadly," they say, "the Bible has been misused in support of this condemnation. This abuse of Scripture must end." Their statement admonishes Christian clergy who call homosexuality a Christless, immoral activity and labels such clergy as people of "hatred, prejudice, ignorance, fear, arrogance, selfrighteousness, and intolerance."
How can such words of judgment be defended? Two reasons are often given.
Those who affirm that homosexuality is neither sickness nor sin often claim Scripture never condemns a "caring, committed homosexual relationship." They also state that just as the church accepts lefthanded people as brothers and sisters in Christ, so also the church should accept practicing homosexuals, since they too are "born" or "oriented" that way and cannot change anything about it.
Are people "born" homosexual? In 1973 homosexuality was removed from the Manual of Psychiatric Disorders. Since then some scientific studies suggest that homosexuality is the result of genetics, an inborn trait.
How conclusive are these studies? In their article, Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologic Theories Reappraised, Drs. William Byne and Bruce Parsons, research psychiatrists at Columbia University, conducted an indepth review of scientific literature on this subject and reported: "Recent studies postulate biologic factors as the primary basis for sexual orientation. However, there is no evidence at present to substantiate a biologic theory, just as there is no compelling evidence to support any singular psychosocial explanation" (Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 50).
Future research may discover that homosexuality is rooted in a complex of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. But even if scientific studies eventually conclude that there is a clear genetic connection that makes some people oriented towards homosexuality, will that justify a homosexual lifestyle? Can we justify a lifestyle on the grounds that one was "born that way"?
For example, current scientific studies suggest there is a possible genetic connection or link that makes some people inclined towards alcoholism. But does that justify drunkenness? Of course not.
Our lifestyle is not judged on the basis of genetic connection, but we are judged on the basis of God's commandments. And that is bad news for us since we are children of Adam and thus "sinful at birth" (Psalm 51:5), by nature "God's enemies" (Romans 5:10) with "every inclination" of our heart evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21).
Our genetic makeup does not determine what is godly and what is ungodly; God's Word determines that. The Bible, for example, does not say it is ungodly to be lefthanded. But God's Word does say it is ungodly to be greedy and a drunkard. The Bible also says it is ungodly to live any kind of homosexual lifestyle. It does not specify whether the lifestyle is "caring or uncaring."
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9,10).
As sinful humans beings, we are all born with the orientation of all of the above. As someone has said, "There's no sin so great we're not capable of committing it." If a study of the brain of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer ever reveals some reasons why he murdered so many people, it will still not justify his activity. His actions were evil, against the will of God. Whether one is called a "born killer" or a "born drunkard" or a "born doubter" or a "born homosexual" does not justify one's "way." Sin is sin.
Born Again By Grace
So is change possible? Is it possible to turn from greed to generosity, from drunkenness to sobriety, from anxiety to certainty, from homosexuality to morality? Millions of sinners have emphatically said, "Yes!" Some of those sinners include former gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. Today there are exhomosexual ministries that point to 1 Corinthians 9:11 as one of their favorite passages: "And that [see earlier quoted sin list from 1 Corinthians 9] is what some of you were [emphasis added]. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." The author of this passage, the apostle Paul, knew change was possible. He experienced it. He was a killer of Christians before he was changed.
The cleansing blood of Jesus is the key to changing one's sinful ways. And such change comes by pure grace. An ex-gay that I know loves to quote Romans 6:14 for comfort and strength: "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."
That is where we bornsinners all need to end upunder graceborn again "of water and the Spirit" by God's undeserved love in baptism. Read closely the following Spiritgiven words:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:48).
To defend a godless lifestyle on the basis of "birth" is neither excellent nor profitable. To turn in repentance to Jesus Christ is not only excellent and profitable, it is lifechanging and eternal.
Northwestern Lutheran, July 1998; Reprinted with permission
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