Many years ago, I was approached by some Christian leaders in Lancaster, Pennsylvania about writing a position statement on homosexuality. Their idea was to draft a statement and seek endorsements from as many area Christian leaders as possible.
Knowing how hard it is to get leaders to agree on controversial subjects, I doubted we would get any significant unity on this one. Yet I agreed to write the statement because of the need to address the subject with biblical clarity.
Much to my surprise, we received 101 endorsements by Christian leaders from a many denominations and institutions. The statement and names of endorsees appeared in the Sunday News of Lancaster.
In light of the controversy homosexuality has been causing in mainline denominations and the national debate about gay marriages, I thought it would be timely to reintroduce this widely endorsed statement.
The issue of homosexuality has been a storm center of controversy on both the national and local fronts. The validity and social acceptability of homosexual behavior have been hotly debated, with arguments ranging from consideration of moral values to issues of civil rights. Too often the responses reflect emotionally charged extremes of conviction without compassion or compassion without conviction.
As Christian leaders in Lancaster County and surrounding areas, we consider the simplicity of such extremes inadequate and superficial. Homosexuality must be addressed with conviction because God has spoken and compassion because the discussion involves humans made in God’s image.
We speak with sensitivity on the one hand because we recognize the painful turmoil this issue has caused individuals and families in our communities. On the other hand, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the rejection of a biblically based morality on our community as a whole. Sadly, the previously held moral convictions of many have been replaced by confusion which results from both individual struggle and public debate. The time tested categories of right and wrong are being surrendered to relativism. This prevailing mixture of turmoil and confusion along with attempts to imply that scripture endorses homosexuality, compels us to offer the following statement of clarification.
To understand God’s will on a given subject one must turn to His word. God has spoken and His word on homosexuality is clear. Just as the Bible condemns acts of hatred and sexual immorality in general, so it condemns homosexual behavior in particular. Using the Bible to condone personal violence toward homosexuals is to abuse God’s holy Word. However, to declare that scripture is tolerant or accepting of homosexual behavior is an equal misrepresentation of God’s will.
The Bible treats homosexuality as one more expression of “the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16-21). From Old Testament to New such behavior has been consistently condemned. The conclusive statement on the subject is found in Romans 1:26-27. It is not difficult to understand why passages such as this are problematic to those who want scripture to support homosexuality. This text condemns homosexual behavior as an abandonment of the natural creative function.
“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 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.”
The teaching of Romans 1:26-27 is firmly based on the divine “male/female” creation order, which extends back to Genesis 1:27 and is endorsed by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4. In Romans 1:23-26, the repetition of the verb “exchange” intentionally associates homosexual behavior with a perversion of the true knowledge of God. It defies God’s creative design by a confusion of the sexes, and when practiced as a lifestyle indicates that the one involved does not belong to God’s kingdom (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
The Bible does not present any utopian idealism about the condition of mankind, yet the same Bible that condemns homosexual behavior also provides the opportunity for forgiveness. Homosexuality is a sin; it is not the only sin, nor is it necessarily the worst sin. And it is beautifully and profoundly true that real hope for homosexuals is found only in accepting the Bible’s verdict concerning their behavior.
To dismiss the Bible’s clear assertion that homosexuality is sinful and produces guilt is to remove grounds for the Bible’s equally clear proclamation of forgiveness and release from that guilt by a gracious and merciful God.
See also: Homosexuality: No choice; No tolerance