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1-27 The Bible and homosexuality -2

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MBC – 8/29/2004 - Pastor Doug Thompson

“The Bible and Homosexuality - Pt.2”

Romans 1:26-32

Before we turn to Romans, I want us to hear the words of the Lord Jesus, this morning:

Ø      JOH 5:24,25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”

Jesus said that the world is in its final hour. It is in the throes of death. But like a trumpet blast echoing off the walls of history, the good news of the gospel is calling men and women to trust in Jesus and be saved from God’s judgment. And all over the world, people are being awakened by God to hear that call and they are being gathered into the kingdom of God!

The Gospel is good news and it is powerful news. What Paul wants to show in this first chapter of Romans is just how badly the gospel is needed--how lost and immersed in sin this world is--and how deserving of God’s wrath and judgment. But against this dark, depressing backdrop, the Gospel shines forth as the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes--everyone:

Ø      ROM 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Ø      ROM 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."

Ø      ROM 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Ø      ROM 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

Ø      ROM 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Ø      ROM 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Ø      ROM 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

Ø      ROM 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Ø      ROM 1:24 ¶ Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

Ø      ROM 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Ø      ROM 1:26 ¶ For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

Ø      ROM 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Ø      ROM 1:28 ¶ And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Ø      ROM 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,

Ø      ROM 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

Ø      ROM 1:31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

Ø      ROM 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Intro: “God in the hands of angry sinners”

Let’s remind ourselves of the progression in Paul’s thought in this section. He begins with:

1. Revelation. God has revealed Himself clearly, abundantly--redundantly--through His creation. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows there is a God. No one has an excuse for not acknowledging God.

2. Rejection. Even though he has this knowledge of God, he willfully rejects it.

3. Rationalization. He not only rejects God, but he calls himself wise for doing so.

4. Religion. He tries to run as far from God as he can by trading the true God for false gods and false worship. He appears to be moral and religious, but he is an immoral idolater.

5. Reprobation. Look at v.28: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind.” When people consistently, willfully reject the truth about God that they know--when they say “We put God to the test and He doesn’t pass our test--thumbs down”--then God gives them over to a mind that fails the test. He turns them over to a mind that can’t think rationally about right or wrong. And the fruit of their darkened, depraved, reprobate mind spills out in 22 different words that describe their lives (vv.28-32).

And the cap on all of it is in v.32:

Ø      ROM 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Doesn’t this describe our society? They become cheerleaders for every imaginable sin. Their heroes are those who are the most filthy, vile, immoral, and shameless. They cheer on those who flaunt their sins the most openly--“Two thumbs up!” They give hearty approval to everything evil--

It’s the same word used of Saul, giving hearty approval to the murder of godly Stephen in Acts 8:1. And it’s what we see when we turn on the news and see the biggest female stars in Hollywood, shamelessly promoting abortion, the murder of unborn children--and the crowds cheer.

Ø      Recently a group of so-called Christian pastors met together at Christ Church in Cambridge, MA to strategize about how to legalize gay marriage. One of these imposters spoke at a session and said, “If we are successful in our struggle, it will destroy traditional marriage and be the end of civilization as we have known it”--and the crowds cheered!

They cheered because they are evil and depraved, and they no longer have any sense of right or wrong, up or down. And it points out what we see in this downward progression in Rom.1, those who reject God are given over to their sins, and given over to more hatred of God. They become God-haters--v.30. Why if God would come down from heaven and step foot on their turf, they would kill Him. And they did!

What Paul is describing in Romans 1 is exactly what we see in our world today: “God in the hands of angry sinners” who mock Him and blaspheme Him and cheer on those who do. And it’s in this context that Paul brings up homosexuality. Paul wasn’t trying to convince his Romans readers that homosexuality was wrong! Their own consciences told them that! He was bringing it up as an example and proof of man’s depravity.

But today, the words of v.32 are true. Those who do this receive hearty approval. Homosexuals are today’s heroes. Most of us remember just a few years ago when Ellen DeGeneres was booted off of TV when she announced that she is a lesbian. She has her own talk show now, and by the way, she will be appearing in a new movie--

Ø      It’s a remake of a movie done back in the 70’s--George Burns played the leading role then--Oh God!--but this time, God will be Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian woman.

We need to know what is going on. We need to be aware of the homosexual agenda, to brainwash you and your children into not only accepting this perversion, but giving it hearty approval. I won’t go into all the ways the homosexual agenda has already come into the public school system, but I’ll just remind you how they came in and began the “Gay-straight Alliance” club right next door, two years ago. And how just last May, when the seniors were discussing a topic for the senior debate, the topic chosen was “Gay  Marriage,” but they had to give it up as a debate topic, because only two seniors took a stand saying it is immoral and wrong--both were kids from our church.”

It used to be that homosexuality was a crime. Now it is a crime to even call it a sin.

Ø      In Sept., of 2003, Canada passed a new “hate speech” law, that makes it a crime to repeat what Scripture says about homosexuality. One evangelical Christian man put an ad in the newspaper in which he just listed 4 Bible references about homo. (we will look at them in a minute)--just the references--he wanted people to go home and look them up! But 3 homo. men filed a complaint saying they were offended, and the man was found guilty of breaking this law and forced to pay each sodomite $1,500.

Ø      Ake Green, pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Kalmar, Sweden, was sentenced to one month in prison on a charge of inciting hatred against homosexuals. Pastor Green was prosecuted for his sermon in a January hearing, where he was found guilty of "hate speech against homosexuals" for a sermon preached in 2003. Do you realize that if we were all simply located in another country this morning, I could be arrested for this sermon?

By the way, as we speak, a law very similar to the one passed in Canada, SB 1234, has already been passed by both houses in CA, and is sitting on the Governator’s desk waiting for his signature.

Romans 1 is here, folks! I read this: Homosexual advocates predict that a Kerry White House would be the most pro-homosexual administration in U.S. history: "Gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered social agenda -- all of that is very much a part of Senator Kerry's philosophy of government and social restructuring. . . (they go on to say) You could give the homosexual activists whatever they want today -- marriage, all the benefits, everything -- but they will not be satisfied until the Church is absolutely silenced on this issue. The bottom line is that as long as the Church says that homosexual behavior is sinful, they feel stigmatized."

So we need to begin this morning by answering the question--

I. Is it sin?

Of course, you understand that we have a serious problem when we need to answer this kind of question. But our society has become so twisted in just the last 20 years, that even Christians are confused by what they see happening. Today, so-called Christian churches condone homosexuality, ordain homosexual clergymen and women, and marry gay couples. 35 years ago, homosexuals began their own denomination called the Metropolitan Community Churches, with over 300 congregations in 18 countries. A gay minister in Ventura said in the local paper there: “Homosexuality is not a sexual perversion anymore than heterosexuality. Gay consenting sexuality is holy.”

“They give hearty approval to those who do what God calls evil.”

Beloved, we are all sinners, and the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from all sin, but homosexuality is sin. It shows up in the first book of the Bible in--

Ø      GEN 18:20 And the Lord said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.”

God had decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinfulness, and there is no doubt that the sin God was speaking of was homosexuality. In ch.19, you remember the story: Two angels show up in Sodom and meet Lot at the city gate. They are there to discuss what God is about to do, and Lot invites them to his house. They say, “No, we’ll just spend the night in the town square.” Lot knows what will happen if they do that, so he insists that they stay at his house. But the men of the city saw these attractive beings entering Lot’s house, and they surround the house demanding that Lot send them out so that they can have relations with them. The Heb. word is yada, which is a euphemism for sexual relations--it’s the word used of Adam “knowing” his wife, Eve. Even after God strikes them with blindness, they wearied themselves trying to find the door--their lust was so great.

Now Troy Perry, the founder of the MCC says that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their lack of hospitality! But listen to Jude-

Ø      JUD 1:7 . . . Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

I count 27 places in the OT and NT where Sodom and Gomorrah are used as examples of God’s wrath against sin, and the preeminent sin of these cities was homosexuality.

If you read Judges 19:22-25, you see another disgusting incident that is almost parallel to what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, but let’s see what else the OT has to say--

Ø      DEU 22:5 "A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

Obviously, this is talking about transvestitism, which seems to be perfectly acceptable now. There are many entertainers of the Las Vegas variety that make their living performing as the opposite sex. The word for clothing in the Heb. is broad enough to mean tools, implements, jewelry, etc. The point is: God hates anything that blurs the distinction between the sexes--that is an abomination to Him.

Ø      I remember years ago, one of my kids read this passage and asked me a very good question. They said “Dad, what about when a man dresses like a woman just to be funny, like a skit or something--does God hate that?” And if my memory serves me correctly that was right after a church event where 2 of our Deacons wore tutus! I had to think about that. I told them, “I don’t think that’s what God was talking about here--wearing a costume as a joke. He was talking about men and women who aren’t joking when they do it. They do it out of rebellion or perversion. But Proverbs says that “fools mock at sin,” so Christians probably shouldn’t joke about something that God says in an abomination.

Look with me at:

Ø      DEU 23:17 "None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute.

Ø      DEU 23:18 "You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog (male prostitute) into the house of the Lord your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

God calls homosexuals dogs here. Then turn to:

Ø      LEV 18:22 'You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

Ø      LEV 20:13 'If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

God’s Word couldn’t be more clear: homosexuality is an abomination to God, and it was punishable by death. You say, “How in the world can so-called gay theologians, negate these passages?”

Some of them would say, “Well, once homosexuality was a sin for the Jews, because God wanted them to be separate and different from the surrounding pagan nations, but we’re not Jews, and we’re not under law, we are under grace! We aren’t under the dietary restrictions of Leviticus, are we? We can wear cotton and polyester blends, can’t we? And you people at MBC don’t keep the Saturday Sabbath, do you? So homosexuality is no longer prohibited.”

How do you answer that? Well first of all, homosexuality is a sin under the New Covenant too (the NT--we’ll see that in a minute), but even if it wasn’t specifically mentioned in the NT, it would still be sin, because the NT condemns “porne,” which is all sexual uncleanness--any sex outside of the heterosexual marriage union. And to find out what God considers porne, you go back to Leviticus, you go back to Genesis. Yes, some things have changed between the OT and the NT, but God’s basic moral law hasn’t changed. And we see that clearly when we come to the NT--

Ø      1CO 6:9 Or do you not know [i.e., this is a given, folks] that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, [the word means “soft”] nor homosexuals. . .

Now keep your finger there and skip over to--

Ø      1TI 1:9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers

Ø      1TI 1:10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

For any honest, objective person, these passages condemn homosexuality as sin. It is called lawless, rebellious, it’s lumped in with murder and idolatry, and Paul says unambiguously that such persons will not enter the kingdom of heaven. How in the world could you twist this to say something different?

Well remember what Paul said about those who reject God, “they become vain in their speculations, and their foolish hearts are darkened, professing to be wise they become fools.” Homosexual revisionists re-define the Gk. word that Paul used here, arsenokoites, a compound word that simply means “to have sex with a man.”

They say, “Well, Paul isn’t talking about loving monogamous homosexuality, he is talking about abuse and excess of what is proper.” And how much perversion is proper? Is there a certain level of fornication that meets God’s approval?

Or they say, “Well, the word means male prostitutes, or child molesters, not homosexuals.” But they have no proof for that interpretation. The truth is, the word that Paul uses, arsenokoites, is not found in any Gk. literature of that time. Paul made it up, but he made it up from two words that are used side-by-side in the LXX (the Greek OT) in the two passages we looked at in Leviticus--which call homosexuality an abomination. So to go back to the argument that the Lev. passages don’t count because they are part of the OC, doesn’t hold any water when Paul clearly has these passages in mind when he does condemn homosexuality in the NC Scriptures.

(I know that you folks don’t need convincing on all of this, but I tell you these things because I guarantee that you are going to run into these lies and distortions, and we need to be ready, as I said, to defend the truth with the Sword of the Spirit.)

The final NT passage is the one before us in Romans 1, which is in the context of the reasons for the wrath and judgment of God. Now look at this again, and imagine anyone twisting this to say that homosexuality is not sinful--

Ø      ROM 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.

Ø      ROM 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Ø      ROM 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

Ø      ROM 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Clearly, Paul is talking about homosexuality in both sexes, and he says it flows from the lust in their hearts, from impurity. It is a dishonoring of their bodies. It follows from those who exchange the truth of God for a lie. It is degrading, it is unnatural, and it is indecent or shameful; and it is error = Gk. plane_, (planet), it means wandering away from what is true and right. He says that they receive in their own bodies, the penalty of their error: STD’s, AIDS, etc. And then in v.28, he says that such people have disapproved of God, they say “thumbs down to God, and thumbs up to evil,” and for this reason, God gives them over to a disapproved mind that is unable to think rationally about right and wrong.

How in the world could this be turned upside-down to say that homosexuality is OK?

Are you ready? This is what you will hear: “Paul isn’t condemning homosexuals committing homosexual acts--that is natural to them. He is condemning what is unnatural, which is people are naturally heterosexual who violate what is natural to them and commit homosexual acts--or those who are born homosexual going against their nature to act as heterosexuals!”

Now behind this twisted thinking is the idea that homosexuals were born that way, and they don’t choose their behavior, so what they do is acceptable to God because—here is the implication—God made them that way. And if God made them that way, then they are not responsible for how they are or what they do—it’s only natural.

II. Are people born with it?

            A. There is no evidence that it is genetic.

I did quite a bit of reading on this, because I had heard rumors about a so-called “Gay Gene.” What I found was fascinating. Back in July of 1993, the prestigious research journal, Science, published a study by Dean Hamer which suggested that there might be a gene for homosexuality. It suggested—there might be a genetic connection. Soon National Public radio trumpeted the findings. Newsweek’s cover story was “Gay Gene?” The Wall St. Journal announced, “Research Points toward a Gay Gene.”

But the truth is, it was a lot of hype over nothing. A few years later, Scientific American interviewed Dean Hamer and asked him if he believed that homosexuality was rooted solely in biology. He said, “Absolutely not!”

The truth is that scientists know that they haven’t been able to attribute any complex human behavior with a certain gene. And they never will because you can’t isolate genetic factors from environment. But the bottom line is this: There is absolutely no scientific evidence that homosexuality is something that people are born with, and therefore, they can’t help it, and therefore, it’s not sin for them.

Can I add something to this discussion of biology and homosexuality that blew my mind? Some would argue that the brains and the hormonal makeup of homosexuals is different than heterosexuals. But scientists know that our physical makeup is greatly affected by our behavior. Listen to this quote that was tucked away at the very end of a newspaper article I read:

Ø      “The findings could mean that some homosexuals are born biologically different from heterosexuals, at least in some respects. However, the hormone changes discovered might be the result of the lifetime of homosexual activity—not the cause.”

I’ll tell you, Christians need to be ready to confront this kind of thinking, because it goes beyond homosexuality--

Awhile back in the L.A. Times, first column on the front page. "Rethinking the Origins of Sin--Genetic findings prompt religious leaders to take a new look at good and evil.” One major question: should you condemn someone for something they're predisposed to do? Similarly, alcoholism, obesity, homosexuality and personality disorders like wife battering have also been decried as sinful. And like homosexuality, their genesis, in some cases, may not be in the willful disobedience in the soul, but in human genetic codes. Simply put, the relevant factor is not values but genes. And if that is the case, they argue, it becomes difficult to proscribe certain behaviors because one can say his behavior is merely natural and therefore he's not accountable.”

Don’t you see how this flows from evolutionary thinking? We aren’t special creatures, made in the image of God—no, we’re just like all the other animals, driven by instincts and impulses. We don’t have any ability to control ourselves or make choices that are noble and virtuous. We can’t even tell right from wrong, let alone choose one over the other. Nope, we’re just like animals. “They became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened!”

Ø      What is interesting is how many homosexuals don’t argue that they are born with it—they are very clear: it’s something they chose. There is an entire website for a group called “queer by choice,” with testimony after testimony of people who say defiantly, “Don’t tell me I have to be like this. I will do whatever I want, whatever I choose, and this is what I choose!” At least they acknowledge that they freely choose

But I want to be clear about something this morning: It doesn’t matter if scientists do happen to find a twisted chromosome in some homosexuals. It doesn’t matter if some homosexuals are born with something different in their brains or their hormones that inclines them in that direction. It doesn’t change what Paul said here.

            B. “Natural” doesn’t make something right.

Do you remember a few weeks ago we went to Romans 8 and saw the effects of the Fall—“all of creation groans” Paul says. Sin has polluted and tainted the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. It has affected plants and animals, the weather, --everything. And it has affected us, and disordered us: physically, mentally, socially, spiritually—and yes, sexually.

Do you know what that means? It means that what is “natural” in a world that is permeated by the effects of sin, isn’t necessarily good or right. It might be very natural for you or me to lie, cheat, steal, kill, or indulge in heterosexual or homosexual lusts. As a matter of fact, according to Scripture, those things come very naturally to us—we are sinners, and we love to sin! Nothing could be more natural! And the only reason we don’t throw off all restraints and indulge every lust and desire—like the animals—is because of the restraining grace of God, and frankly, because of Christians who are like salt that preserves society from completely rotting and falling apart.

Ø      So the argument that says, “Well, if homosexuality is natural to me, then it isn’t sin,” is just as wrong as saying, “Well, you know, punching people in the face comes naturally to me, so I’m not accountable for that!” I have no doubt that some people are born with a bent to being lazy—but that doesn’t excuse them. Some people are perhaps born with something in their physical makeup that inclines them toward addictive behavior: smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling—but that doesn’t make them do those things, and it doesn’t excuse sin.

We all live in this fallen universe, and we all endure a fallen nature that has bent toward sinning. Your bent is different than mine, but none of us can use that bent as an excuse for sin. We didn’t choose our bent, but we choose whether or not to give in to it. For a person to say, “Well I have no choice for my homosexual behavior, I was born with this inclination,” is the same as a heterosexual person saying, “I was born this way, so I have an excuse for my fornication.”

Ø      And if you say to me, “You can’t judge me for being homosexual, I was born this way—it’s genetic,” I have to reply, “Well, you can’t judge me for calling what you are doing sinful, it comes naturally to me as a Christian. I was born again this way!”  

On your way out this morning, you can pick up a copy of an article that I just put on our website that defines what we believe about homosexuality and how we should minister to homosexuals. One paragraph says this: “We believe that a homosexual orientation is a result of the fall of humanity into a sinful condition that pervades every person. Whatever biological or familial roots of homosexuality may be discovered, we do not believe that these would sanction or excuse homosexual behavior, though they would deepen our compassion and patience for those who are struggling to be free from sexual temptations.”

III. Is there a remedy?

The next paragraph says this:

“We believe there is hope for the person with a homosexual orientation and that Jesus Christ offers a healing alternative in which the power of sin is broken and the person is freed to know and experience his or her true identity in Christ and in the fellowship of his Church.”

But where does the healing begin? By acknowledging the sin. By accepting personal responsibility and culpability. By saying what that publican said in Lk.18: “God be merciful to me, the sinner!”

God doesn’t forgive excuses or rationalizations, but He does forgive sin. God’s people must be compassionate, but God’s people must be clear--

Ø      1CO 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

Ø      1CO 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

Ø      1CO 6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

I have a friend who was up to his eyeballs in this lifestyle. But God saved him, and he is in full-time Christian ministry today. That is the power of the gospel, it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes! Listen again:

Ø      JOH 5:24,25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”

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