Can You Think of Any Consequences to the Church for Accepting Homosexuality?
What are the consequences for the church (and Christians) to accepting homosexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation and lifestyle?
Wouldn’t it be easier and more pleasant for us all if the church would simply recognize that it made a mistake on the issue and embrace the “love” of Jesus in accepting people? That seems to be a dominate talking point in our culture currently as liberal Christians increasingly call for other Christians and churches to accept and affirm homosexuality as a good and right lifestyle. Their conclusion is that the church has interpreted Scripture all wrong for centuries. But – hallelujah – Scripture has finally been properly interpreted and homosexuality is no longer a sin.
Just imagine how much easier life would be for everyone if the church and Christians would embrace these new interpretations of Scripture. No more lawsuits. No more media smearing’s that ruin people’s lives. No more death threats by activists. Our society could join hands under a rainbow banner and finally come together for a common cause.
But exactly what are the consequences for the church of accepting what – historically – the Bible and the church have taught is sin?
Writing at The Stream, John Zmirak seeks to have a conversation with a pro-gay Christian and answer that very question. He starts by laying some ground work:
“You want the churches to accept same-sex relationships, to grant them the same blessing as marriage. Here’s what that means: that homosexual acts in those relationships are not just non-sinful but holy. They are a means of grace by which each member of the couple participates in the intimacy of the Blessed Trinity, and brings himself and the other closer to God…Now you want to extend that blessing to cover acts that the Church (based on the sin of Sodom) calls “sodomy.” Have I got all that right?”
Seems like he understands what is being asked of the church.
The church is not merely being asked to overlook a sin, or to show some culturally defined form of tolerance to a group of people. The church is being asked to violate a central doctrine that is essential to its theology by accepting a moral sin. A sin that the Bible consistently denounces from beginning to end.
At the heart of Christian teaching is the reality that man is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Part of that image is our responsibility to reflect the holiness of God in our everyday lives. One way we fulfill our duty to reflect God’s holiness is in our union as one man and one woman in marriage. But asking the church (and Christians) to accept homosexuality is nothing less than asking us to accept as holy what God in His Word has called sinful. It would be no less than asking us to accept as holy the act of murder.
But let’s consider the near-absurdity of the argument that the church has simply been wrong on this issue for millennia. Are we really going to sit here and declare that the church has held the wrong view of homosexuality for the last 5,000 plus years? That somehow the greatest theological minds in history have misunderstood biblical teaching on this issue?
With the great theological controversies that have arisen – even dividing the church at times – throughout the last few centuries, it would take incredible intellectual acrobatics to conclude that every single world-renown scholar, theologian, and pastor in history has simply been wrong. Zmirak, in his article, finds this curious as well:
“You are telling me that the whole Christian tradition, and the Jewish tradition before it, have been fundamentally wrong on a central moral issue. The mistake pervades the history of both traditions, from the Book of Leviticus through the writings of St. Paul, up through the preaching and teaching of pastors, bishops, councils and popes, through the end of the 20th century. It’s embedded in our theology, in our picture of the human person, and even our understanding of the relationship between Christ and the Church. As a result, we have looked at a certain type of sexual activity and denounced it as morally evil, seriously sinful, when in fact it was virtuous and pleasing to God. We should repent. That is what you’re saying.”
The argument seems silly when it’s put into perspective. The idea that every great theological mind – even those willing to buck traditional church teaching – has been wrong on this issue is not just unlikely, it’s absurd. Some of the greatest theologians in history died for their beliefs. They disagreed with established church teaching and were martyred. And yet not one, not a single great historical figure of the church has ever denounced church teaching on homosexuality.
The results of doing so are not just the acceptance as holy what God has said is sinful. As John Zmirak brings to our attention, accepting one sin leads to accepting other sins:
“…Almost all of the churches and synagogues that have rejected the 5,776-year tradition have slid into the pro-choice stance on abortion. Jews and Christians alike courted Roman scorn by rescuing abandoned infants from the city walls, but now liberal Christians and Jews look at abortion and either shrug or actually embrace it as a positive good. They see euthanasia not as a form of murder but of mercy. Why do you suppose that is?”
Zmirak goes on to discuss that once a church is willing to question God on one issue, it will inevitably question God on every issue. The oldest trick in the world – that of questioning whether or not God really said something – is still the most effective. After all, if “God got it wrong” on the issue of homosexuality, maybe there’s other issues He got wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the whole of the Bible is more of a story rather than a guidebook to live by. Or, maybe there’s no God at all.
The downward spiral that tends to happen when we start rewriting God and the Bible in our cultural image is not just temporally harmful, it’s eternally harmful. Yes, there’s no doubt it would be easier. It would make life simpler. But being a Christian has never been about doing what is easy or simple. It’s about dying to self for the sake of the Gospel. If your Bible (or Church) doesn’t teach that, it’s time to find a church with the right message.