The LCMS has sent out Bible study materials and bulletin inserts and more concerning marriage and homosexuality. All this in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling due soon, perhaps this month. Reading between the lines, it’s not going to go well for those of us who are in favor of the historic, cultural and biblical form of marriage.
Nothing will change for the Church overnight…at least I don’t think so. But it’s not hard to see bad days ahead for those of us who view sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage as sinful (whatever the combination of genders involved) . Let me re-phrase that: the Scriptures reveal that all sexual activity outside of the union of man and woman is harmful to the soul and shatters the relationship between God and man. And for us, we will soon be out of the marriage business altogether, and then worse pressures, to be sure.
Let me be brutally honest. For a lot us, being gay used to be hideous. it used to be homophobia. It used to be hate. It used to be discrimination and it was personal. That is sinful too. I went right along with everyone else in calling people names all through elementary school and high school. For this I repent. Christians need to repent of hostility and bigotry in whatever respect. It’s ugly when people are hateful to others, whatever the reason. It’s ugly and sinful.
Yet I can not affirm homosexual sex as something good. Nor can I affirm heterosexual promiscuity, living together, hooking up, or whatever it may be. This is the case not based on Old Testament passages everyone admits do not apply to us directly, but based primarily on Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
This is the harsh reality of our condition. It hurts. But this is what the Church teaches, and this is what I must teach. This is not the whole story, of course, because we also teach that Christ came for all these– for the gossips and slanderers and ruthless and lustful, for those disobedient to parents(!) and promiscuous and everyone who does everything. He came to free us from all our aberrant sins and desires and hateful deeds and to remake and recreate us and give us a new life. None of us are born the way God wants us to be. None of us are immune from any particular sin or disease of the soul. But all of us are offered the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
This is what Christianity teaches about homosexuality. This is what the LCMS teaches. What I teach. It is not popular, and unless God is merciful, it will become less and less popular. But this is they way of Christ and His Church. He warned us: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:20-21 ESV). But He also says a little later, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”