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
The King James Version's and the New King James Version'swording is a bit awkward for our modern ears unless we carefully follow Paul's line of thought from the beginning of the chapter. Isaiah, whom Paul quotes, is saying the faith exists when people hear the message, believe it, and then obey it. Three modern versions help to clarify this:
The Revised English Bible: "So then faith does come from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." This helps to show that this verse is a concluding statement, an appeal to believe the facts and the logical reasoning that preceded it.
The New Testament in Modern English, better known as the "Phillips' Translation": "Belief, you see, can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ." (Emphasis ours throughout.)
Moffat: "You see, faith must come from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the word of Christ."
Biblical faith, a very specific faith, comes from a person knowing, believing, and using what God says in His Word strongly enough to make it a constant part of his life.
Of concern to this faith is where is the information that is entering our minds and guiding our conduct coming from? Never has mankind lived in a time when powerful and frequent communication is so easily available and seemingly limitless in quantity. Radio, television, the Internet, movies, cell phones, iPads, etc., pound our eyes and ears almost incessantly. Perhaps the most powerful influence is the general attitude of the people and the events in which our lives are immersed within the culture. Few people in the world seriously care any longer about what God says in His Word. This can subtly and silently affect our attitudes and conduct in daily life.
Are we living our lives by the faith? Those who have some respect for God are overwhelmed in our culture's civic life, thus public reference to God has been removed from schools, courts, universities, and governments. The secularism of mankind dominates. The result is abortion, homosexuality, lesbianism, and same-sex marriage as acceptable practices. Thus, it may appear even to those who do care as though Satan has overwhelmed God and is dominating life on earth. We must understand that those not living by the faith set the world's spirit, fashions, novels, movie themes, and music in this culture. We must resist being drawn in.
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
Because of man's lawlessness, this law of the universe has too often gone into effect. As a law of an impartial God, it will soon descend upon the nations of Israel in the form of "a nation of fierce countenance" (Deuteronomy 28:49-50). It is only a matter of time.
When a nation descends into perversions like homosexuality, its decline accelerates, its fibers weaken, and it becomes ripe for disaster, either natural or political/military. If the leadership of a nation participates in these perversions, the immorality spreads like a cancer among the people, accelerating the collapse. The leaders, already perverted personally, make immoral and unwise decisions regarding the nation's direction and conditions grow worse (Romans 1:26-32; II Timothy 3:13).
Knowing the nation's destruction is so near, Christians have a responsibility to "sigh and cry over all the abominations" (Ezekiel 9:4), preparing for the time when we will rule with Christ in a just and holy government (Revelation 5:10; I Peter 2:9; I Corinthians 6:2-3). Fortunately, God has made provision for homosexuals to repent, maybe not now but in the resurrection, if their minds have not been totally perverted (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4; 4:2; Hebrews 10:26-31).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The 'Gaying' of America
God charges that all categories of sinners are adulterers! He uses the normal word for adultery. He then provides insight into one way the spirit of harlotry entered into Israelite culture: "They do not consider in their hearts"! Is this not also true today? Despite all the evidence of how destructive sexual sins are, people will not change! Within marriage and society at large, we see syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, AIDS, broken homes, rebellious children, and children being raised by single parents. How many children are not even sure who their parents are? These sins are tearing the nation apart!
The Hebrew word underlying the word "king" in Hosea 7:3 is sometimes used to indicate leaders in business, education, and government, not just the head of the government. God is pointing an accusing finger at those whose own evil ends are to profit from this cesspool of faithlessness—to make money and gain power. This list can include doctors, lawyers, hospitals, pharmaceutical houses, pornographers, booksellers, moviemakers, etc.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment
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
1 Corinthians 6:12
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 14:23, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” This indicates that there is more to Christian living than merely following rules. It is key for a Christian to understand the principles involved in God's laws, not just the letter-of-the-law wording.
Those in the world argue that the law is done away altogether, and believing this, they find numerous gray areas. To support this belief they will use I Corinthians 6:12. However, just a few verses earlier, he seems to say something totally different! Notice verses 9-10:
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, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul does not intend for this list to encompass every sin possible, but he does cover a lot of ground. In addition, he begins verse 9 with “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom,” which casts a wide net. So if fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, the covetous, and drunkards will not enter the Kingdom of God, how then can all things be lawful?
Verse 12, we find, is a poor translation. Paul is paraphrasing what some people were saying—and still say today. Notice that he repeats “all things are lawful for me, but . . .,” following each phrase with an objection. The Contemporary English Version renders verse 12 as, “Some of you say, 'We can do anything we want to.' But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me.” The New International Version is similar: “'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but I will not be mastered by anything.” Clearly, Paul is telling us what others have said and giving his response.
We are free-moral agents, in other words. We can make our own decisions. We can sin, if we wish to, but there are consequences. Paul says he refuses to let “anything have power over me.” He implies that he keeps a close watch on his thoughts and actions.
Notice verse 9, again from the Contemporary English Version:
Don't you know that evil people won't have a share in the blessings of God's kingdom? Don't fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual . . . .
Are there gray areas here? Not to God, but our definition of “evil people” might be different. Certainly “immoral” is open to wide interpretation these days in the world. To “worship idols” can be looked at in different ways. Is “unfaithful in marriage” just an affair or is it more? Each of us knows exactly what these things mean to us, and that is as it should be. We do not need an exhaustive list, or we should not, of all the possibilities of each category. We should know the principle involved.
This is one reason we do not see many lawyers as members of the church. Lawyers are taught to see everything as a gray area. “It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is,” as the lawyer Bill Clinton famously said. It seems that, as we grow in the faith, gray areas disappear, and the line becomes clearer. Satan and his world, on the other hand, are busy blurring the lines, trying to make us feel guilty or prudish if we judge something to be sin and choose not to participate.
I have known ministers who thought they were the town sheriff and had to be in on all decisions in our lives. Others, though, taught the principles involved and left it to church members to make decisions for themselves. Once our teachers have taught us God's way, the burden is on us, not them, to know right from wrong. We must know where the lines are.
Do We See the Line?
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