Is Christianity homophobic?

No, it is not. The English theologian, Rebecca McLaughlin, is same-sex attracted, but happily married to a man – by choice. She understands that homosexual sex is not acceptable to God, but makes the point that the Bible encourages healthy loving relationships between people of our own sex and of the opposite sex. Sadly, because society has become so sexualised, it has complicated the issue hugely, for it is assumed that almost any friendship has to be defined by sex.[i]

Every single one of us is a sexual being, and the Bible makes this one thing clear: All of us (regardless of sexual orientation) express our sexuality imperfectly. We are both totally broken, and (wonderfully) totally redeemed. So, whether homosexual or heterosexual, we all need to come to God in repentance when we fall short of God’s standards.

What does the Bible say?

There are nine biblical passages that mention homosexuality. All speak of it in a negative light. However, those wanting the church to teach that homosexuality is okay for some people have an argument for most of them, so these verses don’t settle the issue.

However, it has to be said that the biblical writers do not define what forms of homosexual acts are wrong and which are right. They do not suggest that it is just homosexual acts associated with temple prostitution that are wrong, or that it is just heterosexuals engaging in homosexual acts which are wrong. Long term, fulfilling, homosexual relationships are not excused any more than long term, fulfilling, adulterous relationships. The biblical writers’ condemnation of homosexual acts is non-specific. The Bible is consistently negative about homosexuality in way it never is about women in leadership. Whilst the Bible has liberating texts for women, there are none for those engaging in homosexual acts.

Nor can the biblical prohibition on homosexual acts be rejected as outmoded in the same way as slavery. The apostle Paul was actually quite radical in his views about slaves for his time. He makes it clear that slaves were to be respected as Christian brothers and sisters, and taught that they were equal to their masters in God’s eyes (Ephesians 6:9). He calls slave traders ‘ungodly’ and encourages slaves to gain their freedom if they can (1 Corinthians 7:21-23; 1 Timothy 1:9-10).

It’s worth remembering that it was God’s deliberate intention to create male and female. In the first chapter of the Bible, we read: ‘God created … male and female’ (Genesis 1:27). Having two sexes was therefore bound up in the very purpose of God.

Here’s a great question: If gays and lesbians did not choose their condition, how can they be expected to repent of it? Archbishop, Keith Rayner, gives a good answer:

Insofar as that orientation is not a matter of choice, no question of sin is involved and there need be no sense of guilt. Sin lies not in our sexual orientation but in the use we make of it.[ii]

In our imperfect sinful state, none of us attains God’s standards in any area of life, including the sexual area. However, this is no reason to disregard God’s biblical principles. God gives these principles for our good. We should be glad that they are there. And we should be equally glad that when we fail in any area, God invites us to repent and enjoy his forgiveness.

So, what does Christianity say to the homosexual? It says this:

  • You are loved and cherished by God.
  • You should be loved and welcomed by faithful Christians.
  • It is no sin to have a homosexual orientation. It would be unusual if you were responsible for your sexual orientation. All of us in society must share the responsibility for that.
  • Everyone is imperfect in some way, and we all fall short of God’s best will for us. We will continue to be imperfect until God makes ‘all things new’ (Revelation 21:1-3). If you are broken in one area, others are broken in another.
  • You may have had no choice in your sexual orientation, but you can choose how to express it.

And finally: if you are contemplating engaging in a homosexual relationship, here are some questions for you to consider:

  1. Who are you? Is the essential “you” simply the sum of your desires, or is there something deeper that defines you?
  2. Does your freedom come from being controlled by your desires – and is that really freedom?
  3. Does your significance come from the number and status of your sexual partners, or could your significance come from something more profound – being loved by God?
  4. Could you live as God wants you to, intentionally feeding godly relationships in defiance of your sexual desires? (Note: I’m not talking about suppression, I’m talking about choice.)

[i]    Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 153-174.

[ii]   Keith Rayner, Archbishop’s Report to the Diocese, Sept 85, pp.29-30

 

Dr Nick Hawkes is a scientist, pastor, apologist, writer and broadcaster. He also describes himself as an absent-minded, slightly obsessive man who is pathetically weak due to cancer and chemo, who has experienced, and needs to experience, the grace of God each day.

This is part of a series: things I have been asked

Nick has written a book Soar above the Storm in which he draws on his experience of cancer to encourage anyone walking through a storm in life to find rest and hope in God. It offers a 40-day retreat to be refreshed and strengthened and find deep peace in God. Order it at Koorong.

He blogs and records podcasts at nickhawkes.net

Nick told his life story to Eternity here: Deadly storms, heroin addicts, cancer and my faith.