Note: The following report was received at the 1985 Conference. The position paper was adopted and the committee was asked to prepare an article for Standards of Worship and Life from the article. The article passed at First Reading at the 1986 Conference . The article passed at Second Reading at the 1987 Conference after being referred back to the committee. Read the final article in the 1987 Conference Minutes.
The Study Committee on Homosexuality was commissioned by the 101st Annual Conference of the Bible Fellowship Church to prepare a study paper on homosexuality (cf. 1984 YEARBOOK, p. 21f). The committee met five times during the year, and committee members were involved in additional sub-committee assignments and meetings.
The committee submits the attached “Study Paper on Homosexuality” and a bibliography of relevant resource materials and counseling aids to the 102nd Annual Conference of the Bible Fellowship Church.
The committee recommends approval of the following:
RESOLVED: That the “Study Paper on Homosexuality” be adopted by the Bible Fellowship Church as its Position Paper on “Homosexuality.
George R. Bryson, Chairman; Thomas P.Shorb, Secretary; Kenneth L. Good, Ronald P. Turner, Stephan R. Van Eck, COMMITTEE.
STUDY PAPER ON HOMOSEXUALITY
Mankind repeatedly rejects God and His plan. Homosexuality is one manifestation of mankind’s distortion of God’s plan for human sexuality. Homosexuality is a term that is relevant to both sexes. “Homo” is a Latin root meaning “alike” or “similar” and does not inherently refer to maleness. A homosexual is a man or a woman who lusts for a person of the same sex or who engages in acts designed to produce sexual orgasm between members of the same sex. Lesbianism is a term used to describe female homosexuality.
THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF SEXUALITY
It is necessary to understand the Scriptural teaching concerning natural human sexuality as designed by God in order to understand unnatural sexual desire and practice.
GOD ORDAINED SEXUALITY.
God created humans as sexual beings, male and female. His design was very good; indeed, it was perfect (Genesis 1:27, 31a).
GOD ORDAINED MARRIAGE TO BE HETEROSEXUAL
The Bible reveals God’s purpose in designing humanity as male and female to be: 1) that they might find companionship and fulfillment in one another (Genesis 2:18; 2:24); and 2) that they might reproduce (Genesis 1:28).
In God’s design it is not good for man to be alone. He needs a helper who is suitable, one who will make him complete. The Hebrew word translated “suitable” (“meet” in the KJV) means to “correspond to”. Man and woman were designed by God physically, emotionally, and mentally to complete and complement one another (Genesis 2:18-23).
If it is not good for man to be alone and if he needs a helper suitable for him, what of those who are single? There are two kinds of singleness. 1) Those who are not married but wish to be. 2) Those whom God has called to singleness. Those in the first category are looking for God’s design – a suitable helper for them – to be completed in their lives. Those in the second category have found that in their calling to a life of undistracted devotion and service, God has superseded His natural design with a supernatural design. They find themselves completed by God’s gift of grace (cf. I Corinthians 7:32-35).
GOD AUTHORIZES SEXUAL UNION ONLY WITHIN THE BOND OF MARRIAGE
The only valid and authorized expression of sexual intercourse is the union of male and female within the bond of marriage. (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). Sexual relations within the bond of marriage are natural, holy, good, and beautiful (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual relations of any other kind are contrary to God’s revealed pattern for human sexual fulfillment.
THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES ON HOMOSEXUALITY
The Christian must consult the will of the Creator whose words are life rather than the opinions and preference of men when deciding what is right and wrong. The conclusion regarding what the Scriptures teach concerning homosexuality are presented here for instruction and obedient living.
GOD INDICATES HOMOSEXUALITY AS SIN.
God evaluates the act of homosexuality by calling it an “abomination” (NIV: “detestable”).
Thou shalt not life with mankind, as with womankind:
it is abomination (Leviticus 18:22).
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomi nation:
they shall surely be put to death; their blood
shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13).
Even the sinful desires of homosexuality are referred to explicitly as “wicked” in Genesis 19:7 and Judges 19:23.
Homosexuality was one of the abominations of the Canaanites for which God expelled them from the land (Leviticus 18:24-30). God prohibits any deviation from the divinely established morality because God calls His people to holiness (Leviticus 19:2). The threat of expulsion from the land existed for Israel if they would defile themselves and profane the holiness of God’s people by committing these abominations.
GOD PROHIBITS HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR.
The Law of God explicitly prohibits the practice of homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 where sexual relations between two men are forbidden. “Lying down with a man in the manner of lying down with a woman” is the same language with which the Hebrew Scriptures frequently euphemize the act of sexual intercourse. The word for sexual intercourse (shachav) is used in Leviticus 20 to describe illicit sexual union of a man with another man (verse 13), with his father’s wife (verse 11), and with his daughter-in-law (verse 12), (cf. Leviticus 18:20, 23).
In both Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 the specific nature of the forbidden act between two men is sexual relations and cannot be devalued to mean some lesser form of either knowledge or “social” intercourse. It is clearly sexual relations that are in view, and they are declared to be an “abomination” and a violation of the holiness to which the people of God have been called (Leviticus 11:44,45; 18:4,5). The Law of God is undeniably violated by the practice of homosexuality.
GOD PUNISHES HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR.
Under the Old Testament theocracy of Israel, God’s Law prescribed the death penalty for homosexual relations (Leviticus 20:13). The practice of homosexuality brought God’s condemnation and destruction upon the offenders in Sodom and Gibeah as well as in Canaan.
The incident at Sodom (Genesis 19:1-26) has a straightforward reference to the homosexuality of its male residents: “They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men
who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them.'” (Genesis 19:5, NIV). This public clamoring for sexual gratifications was expressed on the part of both the “young and old men” of the city (Genesis 19:4) which implies that homosexuality was rampant in Sodom.
Some have contended that the word “know” (yadha in Hebrew) does not refer to sexual relations but that the Sodomites merely desired to “know” Lot’s visitors socially and wanted to be introduced to them. The following points affirm the interpretation that “know” (yadha) means “to have sexual relations” and that Genesis 19:5 is specifically an incident of intended homosexual behavior.
1. The Hebrew word yadha (“know”) requires the interpretation “to know sexually”, i.e., to have or experience sexual intercourse in the following contexts: Genesis 4:1,17,25; 19:8;38:26; Numbers 31:17,18,
35; Judges 11:39; 19:25; 21:11; I Samuel 1:19; I Kings 1:4.
These references require the meaning of knowledge at its deepest and most intimate level. It is the Biblical way of euphemistically stating that these couples engaged in sexual intercourse.
2. Lot called the men’s behavior wicked (Genesis 19:7).
3. Lot’s counter-offer of virgin daughters would be a senseless, even cruel, exchange if the men of Sodom only wanted to be introduced socially to Lot’s guests (Genesis 19:8).
4. The sin brought divine punishment – complete destruction (Genesis 18 and 19).
5. Scripture later calls their practices an “abomination” which could hardly refer to a simple breach of courtesy (Ezekiel 16:49,50).
6. The New Testament corroborates the view that the sexual practices of the men of Sodom were grossly immoral and perverse (Jude 7).
The Gibeah incident in Judges 19:1-30 parallels the Sodom story and informs us that the abominable and
perverse sexual practices of Sodom did not pass out of existence with Sodom’s destruction but were permitted and practiced by a large number of Israelites and caused the virtual annihilation of almost an entire tribe of the Chosen People. The New International Version (NIV) candidly translates the yadha-form of the verb “to know” as “have sex with” in Judges 19:22 where it states that the men of Gibeah wanted homosexual relations with the Levite. The giving of the concubine in the Giveah incident parallels Lot’s strange counter-offer of his daughters and clearly underscores the sexual (not social) intent of the men. Their homosexual lust toward the man-visitor at the house in Gibeah was given vent by the free and repeated sexual rape and abuse of the Levite’s concubine, a surrogate, which resulted in her death.
In the New Testament Scriptures, God’s Word against homosexuality and His Word of hope and help for those entangled by this sin is clearly set forth. The New Testament variously describes the sin of homosexuality:
1. Homosexuals shall not “inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
2. Homosexual practice and desires are subject to “the wrath of God” (Colossians 3:5,6).
3. Homosexuality is “contrary to sound doctrine” and the “glorious Gospel of the blessed God” (I Timothy 1:9,10).
4. Homosexuality is considered to be “sexual immorality and perversion” (Jude 1:7,8, NIV).
The most comprehensive passage in the New Testament Scriptures regarding homosexuality is found in Romans 1:24-27.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections, for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature; 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 (Romans 1:24-27).
HOMOSEXUALITY ARISES OUT OF RELIGIOUS APOSTASY.
In Romans 1 the Apostle points out how societal decay arises out of the deliberate repression of God’s honor and directly results in the judgement of God upon that society. God is said to “give them up” to their sinful practices in judgemental abandonment on account of their spiritual idolatry and rebellion.
God’s judgemental abandonment is evidenced by societal approval of homosexual practices and desires (Romans 1:24-27). Homosexuality is a consequence of the refusal to honor God as God (Romans 1:21), of the suppression of God’s truth (Romans 1:18), and of the practice of worshipping the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
HOMOSEXUALITY IS A VILE AFFECTION.
The entire context of Romans 1:18ff is dominated by the idea of God’s wrath. The phrase “God gave them over” is used in verses 24, 26 and 28 to refer to God’s judgemental abandonment of man by the removal of the restraints of God’s grace so that man acts out his depravity through perverse lifestyles.
The progression of unrestrained depravity begins with “vain imaginations” (Romans 1:21) which, when unrestrained, are pursued until the passions are given full vent in the practice of “vile affections” (Romans 1:26). Homosexuality is a manifestation of the “vile affections” described by Paul the Apostle and it is declared to be “against nature” (Romans 1:26).
HOMOSEXUALITY IS A PERVERSION OF GOD’S DESIGN FOR SEXUALITY.
The natural expression of sexual intercourse between male and female is said by the Apostle to have been exchanged by the female for that which is contrary to nature (Romans 1:26). Females are described as engaging in “shameful passions” by the practice of unnatural sexual relations (verse 26). The Greek word kreesis is translated as “natural use” in verse 26 which clearly refers to sexual relations as confirmed by the reoccurrence of the word in verse 27. The word kreesis in verse 27 is translated in the KJV as “men leaving the natural use of the woman” but it would be more accurately translated as “males having abandoned natural sexual intercourse with the female”.
The males also have pursued unnatural sexual relations by abandoning intercourse with the female in order to engage in homosexual acts and pursue homosexual lifestyles because of their burning lust for one another (Romans 1:27). Homosexual lust and practice are unilaterally condemned in Romans 1.
There are some who consider homosexuality to be acceptable because it is one’s physical orientation or personal preference. It would be well to note that the Apostle’s definition excludes such sinful rationalizations of homosexual behavior. Such rationalizations deny the Scripture which declares homosexuality to be “impurity”, “shameful”, “unnatural”, “indecent”, and a “perversion” (Romans 1:24-27, NIV) of God’s design for human sexuality which is to be exclusively expressed between male and female within the bond of marriage
HOPE FOR THE HOMOSEXUAL
HOPE OF DELIVERANCE
Can the homosexual overcome homosexual practice and lust? The Biblical answer is a resounding “yes”! According to I Corinthians 6:9-11, some of the Christians of the church in Corinth were persons who had been saved out of extremely immoral lifestyles including homosexuality:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And 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 God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11, NASB).
Scriptures such as this declare that there is hope in Jesus Christ for the homosexual. There is hope not only for the forgiveness of sin but also for the transformation of life and the redirection of desires by the power of the Triune God. By God’s grace and His grace alone the Gospel offers this forgiveness and deliverance to sinners. The Gospel is the good news that sin’s stranglehold has been broken through the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ alone who can free the penitent sinner from sin’s penalty, sin’s guilt, and sin’s power (cf Romans 6).
Repentance is the great hurdle in overcoming homosexuality. The homosexual must come to honestly acknowledge with godly sorrow that his homosexual practice and lust is not only unnatural and perverted, but also a defiant transgression of the law of God (I Timothy 1:9,10). As long as homosexuality is rationalized, excused, minimized or in any way condoned, repentance is not thorough and genuine, and therefore,
is unacceptable to God. True repentance, however is
characterized by the acknowledgement of sin, the renouncement of sin, and the determination to forsake sin. Genuine repentance is an evidence of the life-transforming grace of God at work in the heart of a sinner.
Hope for the homosexual finds its substance in the blessings of salvation that come to the sinner who receives Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The believer receives the Holy Spirit who becomes his Helper and the source of power to overcome sin and defeat temptation (John 14:26). The believer receives a new nature characterized by a reverence for God’s truth, a hatred of sin and self-will, a love for God, and a desire to obey His will (II Corinthians 5:17). The believer is also the recipient of the promises of God which by the exercise of faith and obedience provide every resource necessary to defeat sin and live righteously (II Peter 1:3,4).
Homosexuality is a life-dominating sin, and overcoming homosexuality involves the restructuring of all areas of life. The entrenched sinful habits must be broken and new Biblical patterns of living and thinking must be adopted. The homosexual who becomes a Christian must abandon all homosexual practices because they are contradictory to a Christian lifestyle (Colossians 3:5-7; I Corinthians 6:9-11). Former relationships should be broken off immediately, and all feeding factors such as demeanor and meeting places should be forsaken and avoided (I Corinthians 6:18). The penitent homosexual must commit himself to a life of purity before God by refusing to entertain homosexual desires or to fantasize lustful thoughts and by pursuing a normal heterosexual orientation (I Thessalonians 4:3-7). He can be assured that no temptation is irresistible and that God can and will give grace to be victorious (I Corinthians 10:13). The new Christian needs to develop a pattern of spiritual growth with Bible reading, prayer, fellowship in a local church, and discipleship relationship with a mature Christian.
THE CHURCH AND HOMOSEXUALITY
THE CHURCH’S ATTITUDE
The Bible unmistakably condemns homosexual lust and practice as an abomination against God and contrary to God’s created order for sexuality. Neither the church nor individual Christians can compromise Biblical teaching to make it more palatable to contemporary thinking but must uphold God’s truth and holiness while manifesting humility, compassion, and patience in the exercise of a Gospel ministry to homosexuals. The church should be just as eager to extend the love, mercy, and grace of God to a homosexual as it is to condemn his sinful sexual practices. Sadly, however, Christians are often characterized by attitudes of self=righteousness, hatred, prejudice, rejection, and derogative language toward those who so desperately need Christ and the Gospel and thereby alienate and ostracize them rather than lovingly calling them to “be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20). The Church as the Body of Christ should be the hospice of hope, truth, and healing for those entangled in sin’s torment and bondage.
THE CHURCH’S MINISTRY
Christians need to develop a Christ-like sensitivity to the deep needs of the homosexual. Many homosexuals are desperately lonely, guilty, frustrated, and confused. Christians must find ways to communicate to them the great grace of our God and the glorious Gospel of Christ that offers salvation and deliverance to sinners. Christians cannot condone, excuse or ignore the sin of homosexuals but by bold and loving communication of the Word of God must urge homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness and life-transformation.
Homosexuals who come to know Christ need committed friendship, emotional support, patient understanding, and prayerful instruction from loving Christians in order to break their homosexual orientation and sinful habits of the past and to develop patterns of living that are pleasing to God (cf. Ephesians 4:17-24). A guiding, sustaining, loving Christian community is crucial to growth and victory in the lives of former homosexuals.
MEMBERSHIP AND SERVICE
The church should be prepared to welcome into its membership those who have repented and forsaken the practice of homosexuality (I Corinthians 6:11). Acceptance and love in a Christian context are vitally important to those who had previously been consumed in the guilt and self-destruction of homosexuality. Former homosexuals may be considered for service and office in the church if they grow and fulfill the Scriptual requirements.
Homosexuality violates the Word of God and invalidates one’s Christian profession of faith. I Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly states that homosexuality is not to be found among the “washed”,”sanctified”, and “justified” since those who practice a homosexuals lifestyle shall not “inherit the kingdom of God”. Therefore, homosexuals cannot be admitted into church membership or considered for service, office, or ordination in the church.
CONFRONTATION AND DISCIPLINE
When a professing Christian falls to homosexual temptation or is found to be involved in homosexual practice, fellow Christians must follow the procedures of Matthew 18:15-17 and lovingly admonish the individual to repent and be restored to fellowship. If the individual does not repent, successive steps of church discipline must be lovingly and courageously administered for the restoration of the brother and for the purity of the Body of Christ. When the individual repents and forsakes the sin, he is to be forgiven and restored to fellowship (II Corinthians 2:6-8).
The church and individual Christians must also be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) by opposing homosexual intrusion into public life and education. Christians must assume a responsibility for the moral atmosphere of our society and oppose the exaltation and legalization of homosexuality. Christians must work for the election of legislators and judges who will adopt and uphold legislation that values Biblical standards of morality and that protects children and adults from being victimized by homosexuals as they seek to advance their perverted way of life. The urgency of such action is reinforced by the Biblical teaching that a society that endorses homosexuality as a normal lifestyle is ripe for judgement and under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-32). Therefore, the church must do all that can be done to win homosexuals to Christ and to promote in our society the Biblical norms for morality, heterosexuality, marriage, and family.
Bahnsen,Greg. Homosexuality: A Biblical View. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978.
Chantry, Walter. “Homosexual Myths Exposed”, The Banner of Truth, No. 230 (November, 1982), pp.12-19.
Gangel, Kenneth. The Gospel and the Gay. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1978.
Horner, Tom. Homosexuality and the Judeo-Christian Tradition; An Annotated Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1981. (An extensive bibliography that includes books and articles both pro and con).
Keysor, Charles W., et al. What You Should Know About Homosexuality. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.
LaHaye, Tim. The Unhappy Gays. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1978.
Lindsell, Harold. “Homosexuals and the Church”, Christianity Today. Vol. 17, No. 25 (September, 1973), pp.8-12.
Lovelace, Richard. Homosexuality and the Church. Old Tappen, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1978.
Nicholi, Armand D., II. “Homosexualism and Homo sexuality”, Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics. ed. by Carl F. H. Henry. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973, pp.295-297.
Noebel, David A. The Homosexual Revolution. Summit Press, 1984.
Presbytery of Southern California, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, “Homosexuality: A Right?…A Wrong?”. 1978. Evangelical Bible Book Store, 3752 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104. (An excellent phamplet for distribution).
Ukleja, Michael P.. “Homosexuality and the Old Test ament”, Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 140, No. 559 (July-September, 1983), pp. 259-266.
Ukleja, Michael P.. “Homosexuality and the New Test ament”, Bibliotheca Sacra. Vol. 140, No. 560 (October-December, 1983), pp. 350-358.
White, John. Eros Defiled. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1977.
AIDS IN COUNSELING HOMOSEXUALS
Adams, Jay. Christian Counselor’s Manual. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973, pp. 403-412.
Eyrich, Howard A. “Hope for the Homosexual: The Case for Nouthetic Help”, Journal of Pastoral Prac tice. Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer, 1977), pp. 19-33.
LeFebre, Lee. “The Way Out of Sex Problems”, The Good News Broadcaster. Vol. 42, No. 11 (December, 1984), pp. 36ff.
Minnery, Tom. “Homosexuals Can Change”, Christianity Today. Vol. 25,No. 3 (February 6, 1981), pp. 36ff.