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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Homosexuality is In the News


The Bible's Condemnation and Hope for the Homosexual
With news superstar Anderson Cooper of CNN publically declaring "I'm Gay," homosexuality is again in the news. Already mainlined in politics, education, and entertainment, the homosexual agenda has made another stride with this high-profile confession.
The Bible speaks to the issue of homosexuality, and speaks very plainly. Its speech is clear and also comforting. It is a word of condemnation and of hope.
In the New Testament, one of the clearest words of Homosexuality is found in Romans 1-a section of scripture dedicated to demonstrating the reasons Gentiles are lost and the response of God to their rejection of Him.  The Scripture says:
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. (Romans 1:26–27, NASB95)
These two verses are graphic in English, and explicit in Greek.  Yet, in the Greek we find both condemnation and hope.
Condemnation
When Paul speaks of the "natural" he uses the word physicos, from which we get "physical."  The Greek word translated "function" has no equivalent in English. The English word "function" can apply to anything: your stove or your sink, lawnmower or liver. The Greek word, however, is only a word that pertains to female sexuality.  In other words, the Scripture explicitly speaks of the female sexual purpose when it says that women exchanged their explicit sexual purpose for that which isaphisikos, that is, unnatural according to the physical makeup of the woman. Men who "[abandon] the natural function of the woman" begin a perversion by burning in desire toward one another. 
Further, the scripture describes these exchanges as "indecent acts." This term is far more graphic and understandable in Greek than in English.  In English, an "indecent act" can be done by anyone, anywhere, and can be sexual or not. The Greek word, though, is aschemon, and means much more than the English word indecent.  The word literally means "against the schematic."   That is, when women exchange their sexual role of receiving the man, that is "unnatural." When men abandon this role of a woman and commit sexual acts with other men, it is "against the schematic."  Since God is the "Schemer" of the sexual schematic, homosexuality is a "Nimrod Moment" against God. (Nimrod is the one who would shake his fist at God and gather men into a city rather than scatter them according to God's scheme.)
Hope
Though homosexuality is condemned, these two verses also offer great hope for the homosexual. First, we see hope in the word "committing." This Greek word means "working thoroughly," and is used in the Bible to speak of the accomplishment of Christ. It is not a word for tempted by, considering, curious, or enticed. It is clearly a committal word.  The hope here is for the one who, in our homosexually entranced society, may experience feelings that would be considered "gay." The sin, in any arena, is not in the temptation, but in the committal.  If you struggle with homosexual feelings, make sure they remain just feelings.
Is there hope for the feelings?  Yes!  The feelings may run so deep and have existed so long that you are convinced that it is part of your DNA.  These verses, however, contain a word which tells us otherwise. The word is the last word in the English, and is usually translated "error." The word is, in other Scriptures, translated "deception."  That is exactly what homosexuality is: error or deception. How is this a word of hope?  Because you can overcome deception! You can come to the truth, and be set free. It may not be an easy journey, but those who are deceived can learn to look at the "facts" in a new light, and retrain their thinking to overcome the error. 
For those seeking help, make sure that the one who is helping believes the Biblical word that homosexuality is error or deception.  Without this belief, they will give you wrong advice, advice that could be detrimental to your spiritual health.
The Message Misses It
The truth of condemnation of homosexuality and hope for those struggling with homosexuality should always be presented.  However, some attempt to change Scripture so that its clear meaning becomes blurred.  Eugene Peterson's The Message paraphrase of the Bible, for example, just totally misses it on this verse.  Here is Peterson's paraphrase:
"Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn't know how to be human either-women didn't know how to be women, men didn't know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men-all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it-emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches." (Romans 1:26–27, The Message)
Look closely for some of the words we've looked at.  The Message changes the perversion of "natural function" to "didn't know how to be human."  This incivility seems to be a lack of knowledge on womanhood or manhood.  The Message removes "committing indecent acts" and reduces the problem to "all lust, no love," even while the passage in the original Greek says nothing about a love problem.  Peterson's implication seems to be that there is a lack of a loving and committed relationship. Whatever he means, from his paraphrase you would never get the idea that there the homosexual act is indecent because it is against the design of God for Human sexuality. You would also not get the idea that this deception can be overcome, not through becoming more loving, but through living out the design of God.
Condemnation, Hope, and a Clear Message
The Christian message should be one that condemns homosexuality on the grounds that it is against the intended design of God for human sexuality, that the one committing such error can be redeemed and freed from the bondage of homosexuality.  The message should not be angry and hate-filled, nor does should it be accommodating.  It should be clear:  Homosexuality is not God's plan for human sexuality, and those tempted can be released.
I am convinced that, as God turns his back on our society in response to our rejection of Him (the context of Romans 1:26-27), we will see a growing acceptance of homosexuality.  Those struggling with this issue in their family, or those struggling personally, should rejoice that this error can be overcome. Additional resources can be found here.
Dr. Randy White is Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Katy, TX and the Bible teacher on Word for the World, a radio and internet broadcast.  Register for his email newsletter here. 
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com 

By Randy White
Email: rwhite@fbckaty.com
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