What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
God, without mixing words, judges, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13). Paul includes lesbianism in the condemnation: "For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature" (Romans 1:26). Later in I Corinthians 6:9, to make our understanding absolutely clear, he writes that neither "homosexuals, nor sodomites" will inherit the Kingdom of God (cf. Jude 7).
In each of the three instances in the Old Testament where homosexuality is shown in society, destruction immediately follows. The city of Sodom gave its name to this vile practice and has served as the preeminent example of God's displeasure (Genesis 18:20-21; 19:1-29). Two lesser-known cases also show that a rise in homosexuality signals a quick decline and fall.
During the period of the Judges, the tribe of Benjamin was nearly exterminated because of a horrifying incident that began with this perverse sin (Judges 19-21). When the fighting was over, only six hundred Benjamite men remained alive, and their cities and all their wealth were destroyed. It is a reasonable assumption that homosexuality was not confined to Benjamin among the tribes of Israel. If so, this may explain the astounding losses suffered by the other tribes (Judges 20:18-25).
Later, in the reign of Rehoboam of Judah, the Bible records, "And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel" (I Kings 14:24). "Perverted persons" is a translation of the Hebrew qedeshim, meaning "those practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals" (marginal note). The next verses reveal the result of their sin: Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt marched against Judah and conquered Jerusalem, carrying away all the treasures of the Temple and the royal house (verses 25-26).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The 'Gaying' of America
Perversions of the flesh either accompany or follow idolatry. The children of Israel participated in such abominations after arriving at Mount Sinai. When Moses delayed coming down from the mount, the people built a golden calf, ate, drank, rose to play, and danced (Exodus 32). Some commentators speculate that some were engaging in a type of ritual prostitution.
Later, the idolatrous ceremonies that accompanied the worship of foreign gods in ancient Israel, particularly the worship of Baal and Astarte, commonly involved lewd and sexually explicit behavior. Around the time of Paul, Corinth was known worldwide for the Temple of Diana and its sacred prostitutes. Young, virgin, Corinthian girls were required to serve for a time in the temples as prostitutes before they could marry.
The ancients considered sexual intercourse to be a re-enactment of the fertility cycle in nature, and that such re-enactments pleased the gods. They hoped, then, to be blessed with abundant crops and herds in the coming year. Carnal human nature had no arguments against such "logic," especially when it satisfied its lusts.
God decrees, "Whoever commits any of these abominations [including nakedness and lewdness], the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people" (Leviticus 18:29). God's commandment concerning "uncovering the nakedness" of another, a euphemism for illicit sexual relations, is very specific (verses 6-20). Uncovering another's nakedness defiles the land, and the land will vomit out the inhabitants of nations who practice it (verses 24-28).
The same punishment will be brought upon the descendants of Israel today, as pornography, lewdness, and sexual sins continue to increase. Ezekiel 23:27, 29-30, 35, 47-49 prophesies what will happen to modern Israel:
Thus I will make you cease your lewdness and harlotry brought from the land of Egypt. . . . [The enemy] will deal hatefully with you, take away all you have worked for, and leave you naked and bare. The nakedness of your harlotry shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your harlotry. I will do these things to you because you have gone as a harlot after the Gentiles, because you have become defiled by their idols. . . . [T]herefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry. . . . [The enemy] shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn their houses with fire. Thus I will cause lewdness to cease from the land, that all women may be taught not to practice your lewdness. They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall pay for your idolatrous sins. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.
Martin G. Collins
The Writing of Prostitutes
If we can truly grasp the meaning of marriage, we will view it and the seventh commandment from a holy perspective and not just as another "thou shalt not." Movies, television sitcoms, jokes, and modern lifestyles all cheapen this most special relationship. God's saints should derive no pleasure from watching sinners sin. If His Spirit is strong in us, we should find no joy in entertainment that depicts sexual infidelity or perversion. Though much of it is depicted as comedic, it is no laughing matter to God, nor should it be to those filled with His Spirit.
Sex, Sin and Marriage
We live in a land today where sin is discussed and displayed daily. Some of our own major cities could easily compare to Sodom or Gomorrah because of their blatant depravity. Even some of our smaller cities and towns have homosexual mayors and commissioners who flaunt their perversions in public. "Gay rights" is a major social concern to those who practice such degeneracy.
Though sexual corruption is the sin most associated with Sodom, the people of that city displayed other evil traits. Ezekiel 16:49-50 lists some of their other sins:
Look, this is the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.
The Sodomites also resorted to violence quickly when they were crossed. In a December 3, 1995, article in The Charlotte Observer, Linnet Myers reported:
Within the Western industrialized world, the United States not only is the undisputed leader in murder, but in rape as well.
According to the International Criminal Police Organization's 1990 statistics, England reported 6.7 rapes per 100,000 population; France, 8.1; the Netherlands, 8.9; Switzerland, 6.2; Germany, 8.2; Poland, 5.9.
The United States reported 41.2.
Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, author of the popular Book of Virtues, spoke of other shameful categories in which the U.S. leads the world:
But, during the same thirty-year period [1960-1990], there was a 560 percent increase in violent crime; more than a 400 percent increase in illegitimate births; a quadrupling of divorces; a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200 percent increase in the teenage suicide rate; and a drop of 75 points in the average SAT scores of high school students. . . .
Consider, too, where the United States ranks in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world. We are at, or near, the top in rates of abortions, divorces, and unwed births. We lead the industrialized world in murder, rape, and violent crime. (Imprimis, November 1995, p. 3)
Our society is certainly similar to the one into which Lot led his family. In his selfishness and greed, he purposely chose to expose his children and servants to the depravity of Sodom where Satan lay in wait like a hungry lion (I Peter 5:8). We, already living in Satan's world, are commanded, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4). God wants us to make strides to overcome the ungodly practices that we have absorbed from "this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4, KJV).
Ted E. Bowling
Remember Lot's Wife
As far as we know, the crisis of AIDS has been with us since 1981, although blood samples from as early as 1959 show evidence of the HIV virus. Already, tens of thousands have died from it in the United States alone. Although the disease can be spread by other means, the primary vehicle for the contagion is sexual contact.
Before AIDS, sexually transmissible diseases (STDs) like gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and chlamydia—politely called "social" or venereal diseases—raged around the world for centuries. Like AIDS, these are primarily spread by sexual contact, usually of an illicit nature. Today, the Centers for Disease Control reports, 87 percent of all reportable disease is sexually transmitted!
This means, of course, that 87 percent of all disease is preventable—by keeping the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14), which includes all forms of sexual immorality. Mankind could eliminate nearly nine-tenths of all disease by changing sexual behavior to conform to the standard of God's law! Imagine the health, joy, and peace this would cause!
What a breakthrough, right? Wrong! The medical establishment worldwide—except for a few "radical" countries, most of which are Muslim—utterly rejects behavioral changes in favor of the politically correct "safe sex" procedures. Dr. Ed Payne, a faculty member at the Medical College of Georgia, calls the medical community's attitude of rejection of moral values "deliberate naiveté" (World, November 1, 1997, p. 5). Like children, they believe that if they just shut their eyes to the underlying cause of the problem, it really does not exist.
Dr. Payne writes:
The crisis of American medicine is not tobacco, AIDS, silicone, the Gulf War Syndrome, breast or any other form of cancer. . . . The crisis of American medicine is far greater than any one of these problems; indeed, it is far greater than all of them combined, because the answers to these problems do not come from within them, but from medical ethics. It is the same crisis that faces our culture in every other area: How do we decide ethics? That is, how do we decide what is right and what is wrong? (ibid.)
What is the result? In the case of STDs, the medical establishment actually promotes promiscuity and immorality. Rather than "weigh in" on pre-marital sex, it provides sex education, condoms, and birth-control pills to adolescents. To the majority of "health professionals," homosexuality is not wrong, but unsafe homosexual sex is "at-risk behavior." The risk is not that God will punish for sin but that a person might get a fatal disease.
Wrong becomes right, and if it is so right, their actions say, we should do more of it!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
"You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14) is not limited to sex outside of marriage. God commands us to abstain from all sexual immorality, including premarital sex (fornication), homosexuality, incest, voyeurism, bestiality, public nudity, and much more (see Leviticus 18 and 20). In the New Testament, Paul adds licentiousness, uncleanness, and lewdness (Ephesians 4:19), which largely deal with liberal attitudes towards sexual matters.
Men seem to "get away" with adultery while unfaithful women are considered tramps. This double standard is ancient. In John 8:3-11, a crowd was ready to stone a woman caught "in the very act," but where was the adulterous man? God's Word, however, deals with both sexes equally.
It does not take sexual sin lightly either. Leviticus 20:10 commands death for both participants for adultery, as well as for sodomy and homosexuality (verse 13). Paul reminds us that God killed twenty-three thousand Israelites in one day for sex sins (I Corinthians 10:8). In Abraham's day God destroyed five entire cities by fire for their aberrant sex practices. God sent the Israelites and Jews into captivity for immorality, among other reasons.
Jesus struck the heart of the matter in His Sermon on the Mount. Christians must not even lust after another—fantasizing or committing sex with them mentally (Matthew 5:27-28). Nowadays, many psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors actually advise people to fantasize, or perhaps even have a "little fling." Advertisements and fashions all play to the lust of the flesh, making it increasingly more difficult to obey Jesus' command. Teens sometimes scorn their peers if they are still virgins by fourteen. This topsy-turvy world has completely lost its understanding of this commandment.
Much like our big cities today, ancient Corinth was filled with sexual temptations. Paul advised the brethren there to "flee sexual immorality" (I Corinthians 6:18). Too often we flee, yet leave a forwarding address! It is unwise to hang around people, places or situations that tempt us into sex sins (Proverbs 5:3-14; Genesis 39:7-12). When we flirt with temptation, we can end up as an ox going to slaughter (Proverbs 7:6-27).
Why should we flee temptations? Revelation 21:8 states that God will sentence the sexually immoral to the Lake of Fire, right along with murderers, idolaters, liars, and other unrepentant sinners. Paul adds
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 homosexuals, nor sodomites . . . will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9-10)
Sex, Sin and Marriage
The Creator God directly devotes two of His ten great laws to protecting family relationships. In the fifth commandment, we see how important honoring parents is in maintaining a Christian family relationship. God gives the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery," to protect the honor and sanctity of marriage. It is through marriage and the family that we learn how to conduct proper relationships, both with other people and with God. Since it is such an important institution to character development, God does not tolerate its defilement. Within marriage, sex is fully sanctioned by God, but otherwise, its practice causes great harm. In principle, this commandment covers all forms of illicit sex, including fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, and pedophilia.
Martin G. Collins
The Seventh Commandment
The New Testament contains echoes of the curse found in Amos 8—a famine, not of the word, but of hearing it. Romans 1:18-32 tells of unrighteous men who suppress the truth. Because they are not thankful for what the creation reveals of the Creator, their foolish hearts become darkened. They lose what light, what truth, they have.
God's response to this is similar to His response to Israel. He does not contend with them or force His truth on them. Instead, Paul writes, God gave them up to uncleanness (Romans 1:24). He gave them up to vile passions (Romans 1:26). He gave them over to a debased mind (Romans 1:28). It is as if God gives them exactly what they seek, and they do not realize that it is a curse.
A second example of this principle appears in II Thessalonians 2:9-12, where Paul warns of a future Man of Sin who deceives the spiritually weak:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Those who perish do so because they do not receive—in the sense of "welcome"—the love of the truth. Because they do not, God will send them strong delusion, so that they will believe the lie and be condemned. In reality, God is just giving them what they desire anyway. They prefer carnal delusion to spiritual reality, so God obliges them. The unrighteous in Romans 1 desire a worldview without a Creator so they can be sexually liberated. God gives them over to it and lets them reap the awful consequences. The Israelites in the time of Amos did not value God's truth, so He removed it, letting them experience how miserably they fare without it. If they were anything like modern Israelites, they thought of themselves as enlightened and progressive even as their blindness became more complete.
David C. Grabbe
A Subtle Yet Devastating Curse
The anguish in his voice is palpable. "God, I've been crying out to You day and night, and still violence, perversity, and all these terrible things are happening in the land. How long will this evil last? How much longer must we endure this constant wickedness, this corruption? When are you going to act, God?" We have probably prayed similar prayers ourselves: "We need You, God. How long, O Lord?"
Ezekiel was a slightly later contemporary of Habakkuk. In Ezekiel 9:1-6 is a prophecy, a vision, that he saw while a captive in Babylon. The vision describes what God was doing in Judah and answers, at least in part, Habakkuk's question: "Why have You not judged all this evil, God?" His reply in Ezekiel 9 is, "I am going through the land, through My chosen people, and I am marking each one who sighs and cries over what is happening. I am searching out and seeing who is righteous, who has character, and whom I must destroy."
It is good that we mourn over all the corruption, wickedness, and abominations that are happening in this land. It tells God something about our heart and our character. He is seeking out those who are concerned, distressed, and repulsed by what is occurring around them, and He is setting them apart for deliverance. All the while, we must endure it, but it is a necessary wait, because it takes time for God to evaluate our character, to see what we will do over the long haul. As Jesus advises in Luke 21:19, "In your patience possess your souls."
So we must ask ourselves, "How do we react to what is happening in our nation?" How do we react to sex and violence on television, movies, and magazines, in books, on billboards, and in just about all advertising and entertainment? How do we react to terrorism, to drug use, to abortion, to oppression? How do we react to our court system, which allows so much injustice to stand? How do we react to racial inequalities? Have we become numb and hardened to all of these things, or do we still sigh and cry over the depths of this nation's depravity?
Habakkuk is certainly concerned, and so he asks God for answers, crying out, "Save us!" God replies in Habakkuk 1:5-11, and His reply is very interesting.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Those of us in this end-time age may have difficulty comprehending some aspects of the mourning God expects and respects in His children. Our conscience, unless we carefully guard it, can easily adapt itself into accepting its cultural environment. Society's ethics and morals are not constants. There exists a very real pressure for them to decline from God-established standards; what one generation considers immoral or unethical might not be by the next. For instance, what appears on public movie screens over the past thirty to forty years has changed dramatically.
In 1999, the President of the United States went on trial for clearly breaking God's commandments and for crimes for which lesser people are presently serving time. The public, however, gave him high approval ratings, perceived his adulteries and sexual perversions as private affairs, and considered his perjury before a grand jury as deplorable but "no big deal."
Paul warns us in Hebrews 3:12-15:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
The mourning Jesus desires is the kind that exhibits a softness of heart that is ready for change in a righteous direction, one that knows it has done wrong and is eagerly willing to have it cleansed into holiness. We of this generation face an uphill battle because, through such media as television and movies, we have vicariously experienced the breaking of God's law in unparalleled frequency and in vividly sympathetic ways. On the screen life is cheap, property is meaningless, sexual purity is scoffed at, stealing is fine "if it's necessary," and faithfulness is nerdish and corny. Where is God in it? How much of this world's attitudes have we unwittingly absorbed into our character? Is our conscience still tender? Is mourning over sin—ours and others'—a vital part of our relationship with God?
Godly mourning plays a positive role in producing the changes God desires to produce His image in us. We need to pray with David, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). He asks God to give him what did not exist before, that his affections and feelings might be made right, and that he might not have the callused attitude that led him to adultery and murder. A plea of this kind is one that God will not deny. If we are truly serious about overcoming and glorifying God, it is well worth the effort.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning
Jesus Christ gave many "indicator markings" to help us to determine when His second coming is near. He shows us that an indicator of His imminent return is that the society around us will be similar to that of Sodom when Lot lived there nearly four thousand years ago. People will be going about their everyday lives seemingly unconcerned about the egregious evils in society, unaware that their lifestyles are abominable in the eyes of God. Thinking their ways of life are "normal," they will not expect the calamitous events that will befall them.
It is axiomatic that a dominant characteristic of Sodom's culture was rampant homosexuality. English has borrowed the words sodomy and sodomite to describe homosexuality and those who practice it. When angels came to Lot in the form of human men to inform him that God would overthrow the city, the men of Sodom came to Lot's door, demanding that the visitors come out and have a homosexual relationship with them (Genesis 19:1-5). The angels struck these Sodomites with blindness to drive them away (verse 11).
Most people would look upon such behavior as unthinkable. However, the men of Sodom apparently regarded it as "normal"; they did not view it as evil at all! Today, a similar attitude is slowly and insidiously beginning to work its way into our society. Increasingly, homosexuality is considered to be an ordinary lifestyle. Instead of being viewed as a horrible perversion, homosexuality is more and more being regarded as an "orientation" just as left-handedness is an orientation, for example. As usual, the Western world, composed primarily of the nations that have descended from Israel, is leading the way in this radical change in attitude.
An article appearing in the January 6-12, 1996, edition of The Economist entitled "It's Normal to be Queer" describes the radical changes in attitude toward homosexuals that have occurred worldwide over the last thirty years. As often happens, the changes have occurred gradually, one step at a time. First, many societies decriminalized homosexuality, and people slowly stopped considering it an illness or perversion. This led many to abandon the traditional view that homosexuality is shameful, opening the door to the idea that gays and lesbians are simply a cultural minority—like a racial or ethnic minority. Finally, some cultures are beginning to regard homosexuality as a normal but different lifestyle—simply an "orientation."
In fact, some countries have begun to look upon homosexuality as a harmless, neutral trait that a small percentage of people are born with—like having blue eyes or red hair. As such, it is seen as a characteristic that the individual did not choose and cannot change. These attitudes have led many to accept the homosexual lifestyle as a distinct but, at the same time, normal, ordinary and harmless condition. The article in The Economist describes how people just seem to accept this:
So emerges that rare but proliferating species: the young woman of 20 who realises she is a lesbian but, after a period of adjustment, shrugs her shoulders, informs her family, and plans to get on with an otherwise mundane life. (p. 69)
There are, of course, exceptions to this attitude. Many countries of the Middle East where Islam is the dominant religion still treat homosexuals very harshly. Throughout most of Africa, homosexuality is rarely discussed. Even in the Western world, many homosexuals still have not "come out of the closet." Nevertheless, the changing attitude is unmistakable and is growing in most areas of the world.
Last year the first gay page appeared in a mainstream newspaper in Turkey; an openly homosexual Pakistani poet published what may be the first book of gay verse in Urdu; and Latin America's first gay resort opened in Brazil. In 1995 activists demanded marriage rights in Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. Estonia's all-lesbian group started in 1990, Hong Kong's in 1994 (followed by another last year), and Brazil has at least seven. Mexico's homosexual groups number more than a dozen; South Africa's, more than 50. . . . In short, homosexuals are emerging from the closet. And, more interesting still, they are doing it in more or less the whole world at once. (ibid. Emphasis ours.)
Many would undoubtedly applaud this push to bring homosexuals out of the closet and allow them to practice their lifestyle openly with the same rights as "straight" people. Many would argue that this is an "enlightened" and "progressive" movement that all decent human beings should advocate. But what does God say about this? How does He see and regard homosexuality? Does God advocate gay rights?
God sees things quite differently than most people in this world. He clearly states that homosexuality is wrong (Leviticus 18:22); it is an abomination of which people must repent! In no uncertain terms, He decrees that homosexuals will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9).
Many thousands of years ago, God knew that this type of movement would occur in the end time among His people, the modern-day descendants of Israel. Through the prophet Isaiah, God thunders a warning to His people today, calling them by a name that unmistakably brands them with the sin of homosexuality: "Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah" (Isaiah 1:10). God prophesies as to where this open acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle would lead:
For Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen, because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of His glory. The look on their countenance witnesses against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves. (Isaiah 3:8-9)
God reveals that when His people accept the attitude that homosexuality is "normal," they have begun to tread the path that will ultimately lead to their destruction.
As we see the same conditions that existed "in the days of Lot" developing today, we can take comfort that the glorious second coming of Jesus Christ is drawing near. When He comes, He will make the Spirit of God available to all (Joel 2:28-32), and homosexuals will be taught that they can repent and change. Jesus is described "like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver" (Malachi 3:2-3). He will cleanse the earth from all unrighteousness and perversion, and show all people how to live the way that leads to peace, happiness, and joy. Then—and only then—will the homosexual lifestyle be eradicated from the earth forever.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
As In the Days of Lot
What are the results of rejecting God?
1. Uncleanness, meaning moral impurity;
2. Longing or desiring, especially what is forbidden;
3. Disgracing each other by mutual consent, meaning unlawful and impure connections with one another. Verse 24 contemplates not just a perversion of sex—homosexuality—but any use of it outside of God's law, such as fornication.
Paul describes more of what rejecting God leads to:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (verses 26-27)
Should we be shocked at the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in today's world? God tells those that reject Him that such diseases are fitting penalties for the wrong use of sex. Mankind has tried to "advance beyond consequences" in this area by advocating "safe-sex" through the use of contraceptives. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently admitted that condoms do not prevent the transmission of most STDs. Mankind cannot outsmart God!
David C. Grabbe
What Evolution Really Means
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