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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






20 March 2009

An Ending not Gay


The young lady in the previous post continues her questions:

Q: Do homosexuals go to heaven?

Gay ParadeA: Salvation comes by faith only to those who believe that their sins are completely forgiven because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death. Do your hypothetical homosexuals believe this? First of all, do they believe that homosexuality is actually a sin needing forgiveness?

Of course, we can include murderers, adulterers, oath-breakers, disobedient children, thieves, liars, and other sinners, asking, “Can anyone go to heaven?” Of course they can — but only by faith in Jesus Christ. Again, these people must recognize the sinfulness of their actions and know that intentionally persisting in sinful actions denies God’s grace in Christ.

However, when people reject Holy Scripture’s clear definition of sinful behavior, they cannot be saved, since they won’t admit that they have sinned. People try to redefine any number of sinful actions as good — or at least value neutral. Sexual sins, particularly homosexuality, are among the most common targets of such revisionism.

These revisionists use faulty reasoning, involving an incomplete understanding of love. Homosexual apologists basically claim that since God is love and since same-sex couples share love between themselves, their relationships must be fine, since they are built on love. However, erotic love, brotherly love, and friendship love all pale before the absolute, self-sacrificing love which is God’s by nature. Every other type of love must be constrained and guided by divine love.

The Lord is consistent: He condemns homosexuality in both the Old and the New Testaments. This obviously includes His judgment on Sodom. Twice in Leviticus, He says that it is “an abomination” for a man to “lie with a male as with a woman. (18:22; 20:13)” Attempted homosexual rape triggered Israel’s war against the tribe of Benjamin (see Judges 19-21). Baalism’s male cultic prostitutes often practiced homosexuality.

LesbianismIn the New Testament, aside from the general condemnations of sexual immorality, homosexuality is specifically mentioned. Romans 1 includes lesbianism (v. 26) and male homosexuality (v. 27) among the “dishonorable passions (v. 26)” that were divine judgment upon those who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie. (v. 25)”

Along with “the sexually immoral ... idolaters ... adulterers,” who “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9 includes “men who practice homosexuality.” Likewise, Paul wrote that “the law is ... laid down ... for the lawless and disobedient ... the ungodly and sinners ... the unholy and profane,” including “men who practice homosexuality” and “whatever else is contrary to strong doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)”

Furthermore, arguing only according to God’s love ignores the rest of His nature. Not only is His love perfect, so are His justice, holiness, and all His other attributes. He never stops being perfect and never ceases to demand perfect obedience from all Creation. He can’t stop hating sin; to do so is against His nature. If we attempt to redefine — or to justify through human reason or emotions — any sinful thoughts, words, or deeds as sinless, we compound our sin against Him.

The only lasting relief comes from facing, admitting, repenting, confessing, and receiving God’s forgiveness for our sins. Such true repentance involves a sincere desire to change our sinful way. Does change happen? It often does — yet our broken natures may weaken our resolve and drag us back into our old ways.

We thank God that such sins of weakness, committed less in defiance of His will than because of our human frailty, remain forgivable. Only when homosexuals — as well as thieves, liars, gossips, and others — reject God’s Law, self-justify their attitudes, and persist in their sinful actions do they remain unforgiven.

Previous columns addressed the related questions Homosexual from Birth? and Homosexuality: Inborn Sin or Genetic Code?

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Expanded from newspaper column #572:1.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Raycol said...

In contrast to your views, I would like to suggest that the Bible’s prohibition on full sex between men (homosexual activity) does not apply to men today when the sexual activity causes no harm. Also, the prohibition does not apply to men today because it applied only to the ancient Israelite and Greek-Roman cultures of Bible times. Reasons for these conclusions are given on www.gaysandslaves.com.

21 March, 2009 02:19  
Blogger Steve said...

Raycol,
The Christian view of marriage which opposes homosexual relationships is not based solely on the Leviticus passage which it appears you are referring to. It is based in God's standard for marriage as it was established in Genesis and affirmed all throughout scripture, including by Jesus in Matthew and Mark; meaning if you have been told that Jesus never said anything that addressed homosexuality, you have been lied to.

So even if you can prove that the Leviticus verse doesn't apply, much more scriptural evidence, and 2000 years of Christian history supports the fact that biblical Christianity is rightly opposed to homosexual relationships.

That said. I don't think the revisionists have come anywhere near to proving that the Leviticus passage doesn't apply. The common assertion is that it is only about temple prostitution. The question they can't answer is to why it doesn't just say that temple prostitution is an abomination.Instead, it makes it explicitly clear what type of temple prostitution it was referring to.

22 March, 2009 01:00  
Blogger Frank Sonnek said...

wow. amazed that a Lutheran pastor would post a response that is so unclear on exactly what homosexuality is, ( what exactly is sinful about homosexuality? what is sinful about the homosexuality of prepuberty gay adolescents? )

seems so very unscriptural.( sodom and gomorrah and romans 1 have nothing to do with homosexuality. You are saying that the typical picture of homosexuals is taht they are ravenous sexual predators. how evil and contrary to the 8th commandment and ignorant. AND insulting. leviticus was written for the jews, are we now to accept everything in that book as moral law? tell me how you distinguish clearly what applies in this book to jews and what applies to you? give me the consistent rule and let´s see what results from it´s application... I DO believe that ANY sex outside of marriage is unnatural and sinful. but THIS is a very problematic passage to use in this context pastor! have you looked at ALL the things the OT calls "abominations"? unwise at best to single out that word in this context implying that homosexuality is on some list of "super sins". corithians and timothy. honest disagreement can be had over the meanings of the words arsenokoitia and malakoi. you must know this being a lutheran pastor and probably knowing greek,,) and is seems contrary to the lutheran confessions in such a basic way 'cleanse thou me from secret sins'. Just because someone is not convinced from scripture that something is wrong and sinful does NOT mean that they do not believe they are sinners in need of forgiveness. calvinists believe many false doctrines. they cling to these errors. they are militant and unrepentant. I do doubt that you would apply and articulate this standard in the same way to non lutheran christians. why is that? is there a separate law and gospel for homos? a different standard? looks like you believe this to be so dear pastor.

I must be missunderstanding what the pastor has written.

22 March, 2009 18:10  
Blogger Aiko said...

When read within it's own context and allowing context to define the text of Scriptures, how can Scripture be any more clear where God stands on the matter? Of homosexuality when -all- forms of sexual relationships outside that of the definition God gave at the end of Genesis 2 for marriage is considered out of bounds.

Old Testament Civil Laws as well as Ceremonial Laws were rendered null and void when Jesus Christ came. The Hebrews as a nation were God's Chosen People to point to the world a Savior would come. Those Laws which God instituted such as those in Leviticus were no longer needed when that Savior arrived.

God's Moral Law, however, remains just as it did when he first gave it. And remember there was a firm right and wrong before the Commandments were written in stone. Adam and Eve knew it was a sin and rebellion against God to eat of the forbidding fruit. Cain already knew it was a sin to murder his brother Able.

Jesus stated in the Gospels the first Law (which encompasses 1-3 of the 10 Commandments) is this:

"Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind."

The second (which encompasses 4-10 of the 10 Commandments)follows:

"Love your neighbor as yourself.

The Second Great Commandment always follows after the First. God defines it, not society and not popular vote.

Frank:

Sin itself is much more than evil and insulting. It is a deadly cancer. Reading the Scriptures gives a real glimpse into how dark and depraved sin really is and how it taints all humanity. It shows just how much we really need a Savior.

Thank God we have a Savior who took on that sin and bore that sin all the way to the cross for our benefit. Jesus' resurrection proves the payment was "paid in full".

31 March, 2009 05:06  
Blogger Frank Sonnek said...

insert the word Calvist for Homosexual in this post to see what I am seeing as wrong. you guys have a different law/gospel for homos.

do calvinist go to heaven?

well... that depends ... do they know that the denial of the body and blood in the sacrament is a sin to be repented of??!!" one can only be saved by faith in christ.

this pretty strongly implies that the answer is....um... NO! unless a calvinist realizes his sin as sin, repents of it, and becomes a Lutheran christian....

what am I missing here?

really.

18 April, 2009 16:58  
Blogger Frank Sonnek said...

aiko:

1) you are saying that the man sexually treating another man as a woman is moral law. and the ENTIRE rest of leviticus is civil or ceremonial law. give the consistent rule you are using so I too may distinguish between the categories.

2) homosexuals do not identify themselves as homosexuals by who they are attracted to sexually or by the kind of sex they have and who they have it with. it might be good to be able to define that word "homosexual" in a way a homo would recognize as identifying him before you decide to be sloppy and uneducated in your use of words.
Know at least the definition of the word that head the topic you think you know something about. homosexuality, as defined by homosexuals, the apa, aba, ama is not a sin. homosexual sex, which is a sin (as much as ANY sex outside of marriage) does not equal homosexuality.

men who have sex with each other in prison are not homosexuals usually. hope you understand what I am telling you here...

for more you can go to...

http://www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html

18 April, 2009 17:05  

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