The opening statement of an Associated Press editorial titled, “Institution Under Siege,” refers to a cultural debate intrinsically tied to our religious base as a nation. Leading with the statement, “The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed state bans on homosexual sex was the latest loud volley in an ongoing culture war over the shape and nature of personal relationships.” The Justices having ruled a couple of years ago that a Texas sodomy law, used to arrest, fine and jail two Houston men caught in the “act” violated their right to privacy under the U.S. constitution.
Homosexual activists hailed this decision as a symbolic victory they hope will generate momentum in their efforts to recast the definition of marriage – a core social institution – to legally include same-sex couples. In their defense, the Justices anticipated the speculation their ruling might generate, noting that its endorsement was of privacy – not sodomy; yet its ruling does extend constitutional protection to whatever passes as consensual sex at the moment. (And in all honesty, who would want anybody checking in on them to make sure they’re doing “it” right?)
A handful of European nations have already granted legal status to same-sex “civil unions” up to and including marriage, with Canada following close on their heels. Opposition to these policies is stronger in the U.S. even though a recent Gallup Poll purported to show Americans evenly divided over the issue. Since 1996, however, the federal government and 38 states have adopted Defense of Marriage Acts defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And while there appears to be some ambivalence concerning the issues involved here, many people would still agree with Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby: “Sometimes, change destroys. No structure can stand for long when its bearing wall is removed. The bearing wall of marriage – it’s central and universal defining characteristic – is its heterosexuality. Knock that down, and what is left will become a ruin.”
As with so many politicized moral issues, the answers to the problems they pose can only really be found in scripture. That’s certainly not discounting the opinions of Mr. Jacoby and others but, as we’ve just noted, opinions and social norms change; what our core beliefs are built on must remain the same if they are to be valid and maintain any significance to support our opinions. As Christians, we must reflect Paul’s assertion that, “…what may be known about God is plain… because God has made it plain… For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made (And how it was made – male and female in this instance.), so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:19,20 It doesn’t take much effort to figure out the use and usefulness of men and women as created by God, but takes a lot more imagination and effort when engaged in between couples of the same sex. And yet it is the nature of man to question and try to improve on the original, even if it’s actually to his detriment; this attitude being dealt with scripturally as well. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools...”, exchanging “the truth of God for a lie… Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.” Women and men exchanging natural relations for un-natural ones, receiving in themselves the due penalty for perversion. “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind,…” (Not that he intended for this to be – but as they withdrew from him, he withdrew himself from their sin – which allowed for a deepening of their involvement.) “…in every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.” Romans 1:22-29
Sin, which we have all committed (Romans 3:10 & 23; James 2:10,11) is anything that goes against God’s will, which starts with the concept that he is sovereign and must be obeyed in all points. (Galatians 3:10, Deuteronomy 27:26) Realizing man’s inability to do that, a way was provided for us to escape conviction even as we are expected to do our best to conform to his will. When we begin to pick and choose what to obey or disobey, we lose respect for the package of laws that are meant to be taken as a whole for our benefit and the benefit of those living about us. (Even if what we are expected to obey is “only” the law of love referenced in Galatians 5:14 & Romans 13:8-10) In categorizing some sin as less bad or more acceptable, we enable some even as we condemn others. The end result being that we disrespect God, failing to acknowledge his will for our lives expressed through his word, ignoring his intent to bring us fulfillment in life and the hope of an after-life.
Scripture condemns homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13) and adultery (Deuteronomy 22:22); both are sin in God’s eyes though viewed differently by many people. Paul declaring that practicing homosexuals will not inherit God’s kingdom – but neither will the greedy, thieves, drunkards, swindlers, those filled with envy, the mean-spirited, those who are full of deceitful speech and actions nor gossips! ( 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 & Romans 1:29 – 31) All sin is detestable in God’s eyes (Habakkuk 1:13) and we are all guilty of it, needing God’s mercy and Christ’s sacrifice; his mercy rendered null and void in our lives only when we live in open rebellion against his will and disobey his word. For, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment…” Hebrews 10:26 - 27
As the aforementioned Gallup Poll suggests, society as a whole is conflicted on this issue; many possibly making allowance for it in an attempt to soothe their own conscience or excuse their own particular behavior. (See Romans 1:29 – 32) Our concern should not be in identifying sin in others under the guise of promoting the health and well-being of society (although that is a concern), but we must understand that civilization will not survive without the family as created by God; homosexuality being a direct challenge to God’s plan for the family of man. We must care enough to hate the sin while loving the sinner, bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and cleansing from sin through his sacrifice on the cross; a change of mind, spirit and lifestyle not according to our preference but in obedience to God’s word. That is the only sure foundation for individuals, the family and society as a whole.
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