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How to respond as a Christian to the homosexuality debate

As the ELCA discusses the role or acceptance of LGBT clergy at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, it seems like a good opportunity to discuss how God uses the sin in the world, not condoning it, but twisting it back to His glory. God never ceases to amaze me as He takes the pain and suffering and evil in the world, evil with no intrinsic good, and brings good from it just as He brought the universe from nothing. Best example: the Son of God is murdered, and the world gains eternal life.

While I’m saddened by the widespread dismissal of the Word of God as He speaks to the issue of sexuality, God will use this through us, and here’s how:

When Christians talk about “gay marriage,” they usually refer either to Leviticus or Romans. While both of these texts address homosexuality, I’m convinced that the “proof text” for Christians is found in Ephesians 5, God’s definition of marriage, and I believe it’s there we need to start in our discussions with others.

God defines marriage with a simple formula: one man, one woman, married for life. The man’s role is to serve his wife, giving his life over to her needs, and the wife acknowledges his loving service and supports him in love, so they give themselves to each other in lifelong service and self-sacrifice, modeling our relationship with Christ and showing that mutual unconditional love to each other.

Our society long ago already eliminated “married for a lifetime” from the equation, so it shouldn’t surprise us when the rest of the equation gets corrupted. But that formula isn’t just God being a bully—He wants us to know His love, and He has given us marriage that we may have a taste of His love. When we change the equation, we either end up with a church with no Savior or two Christs and nobody saved or church and Christ divided from each other without His unconditional love. And even on a practical level, if we eliminate God’s equation, we open marriage up to other corruptions like polygamy and more.

So take this opportunity to discuss the issue—it’s a “water cooler” topic now! And remember these points:

† All sexual sin, including heterosexual intimacy outside marriage, is equally rebellion against God but also equally forgiven by Christ’s blood.

† Jesus died for all people, regardless what sin tempts them. Since they were worth that much to Him, who are we to not love them?

† While some may find satisfaction in a man-made corruption of God’s natural order, God wants so much more for us—He wants us to know His love and experience it through each other until the great wedding feast on the last day.

Our rebellion against God’s good and loving will for us put Jesus on the cross, but on that same cross, we find our loving Bridegroom. God give us the opportunity to share His love through this sinful action and wisdom to season our discussions with the Good News of His true love.

Comments

  • Chuck Anziulewicz 5 years ago

    DEAR JOHN:

    I guess it just boils down to the old "double-standard" thing.

    Why is it that it's perfectly acceptable, even admirable, for Straight (i.e. heterosexual) couples to date, get engaged, get married, and build lives together in the context of monogamy and commitment, and that this is a GOOD thing ... but for Gay couples to do exactly the same is somehow a BAD thing? To me this seems like a very poor value judgment.

    Consider The Golden Rule: We do unto others as we would have them do unto use. Put all the religious dogma and ritual aside, and this is what our law boil down to. We don't lie or bear false witness because we won't want people to lie to us. We don't steal from other people because we do not want people stealing from us. We don't betray the trust of our spouses because we wouldn't want them doing the same to us. Same goes for killing and a variety of other "bad" behaviors.

    So to say, "Love and commitment is good for ME but not for THEE," makes no sense.

  • Chuck Anziulewicz 5 years ago

    There seems to be this sheepish adherence to a double standard for Gay and Straight people. If you're Straight, it's all so wonderful to be able to find a compatible person of the opposite sex, court and get engaged and marry and live happily ever after. But if you're Gay, all of that is completely out of the question. Don't even bother trying to find a compatible person. Lesbians are Gay men are precluded from any hope for romance or commitment. Gay people are simply told: "Gosh, sorry about that. You make us uncomfortable; acknowledging your existence means we might have to revise what we’ve been teaching all these years - meaning, Whoops! No infallible Magisterium or 'literal' Bible ... so you’ll just have to sacrifice your life and any hope of finding somebody to love. Tough luck, kid. God said it, I don't necessarily understand it, but there it is."

    I wish more Christians would at least TRY to wrap their minds around why this makes so little sense to Gay people.

  • Bill 5 years ago

    I wonder how many little boys Dale Critchley has molested?

  • Erik Ullestad 5 years ago

    Nice article, Dale.

  • Jeffrey Shy, M.D. 5 years ago

    Although I disagree with your conclusions regarding sexuality, you are suggesting a classical (if controversial) theological argument. This has at times been characterized as apokatastasis, the reunion or redemption of the whole world and all its creatures, from the most heinous evil to the greatest good. This was a commonly held belief up through the sixth century acknowledged by some of the Cappodocians, Origen, Clement of Alexandria and others. The Fifth Ecumenical Council condemned it based on a rejection of the idea that Hell was not eternal. It appears as a word, however, only once in the bible in the 3rd chapter of Acts where it is interpreted as a "restoration" of all things promised through the prophets, presumably in the future eschaton. What its "moral" implications are, however, is difficult to say, and this may also have led to the Church's anathematizing it in the end.

    (continued)

  • Jeffrey Shy, M.D. 5 years ago

    Additionally, the idea of the "man-made corruption of God's natural order" assumes that heterosexual genital intercourse is the ideal and real expression of God's intent for the world. How then do you cope with same sex genital activity in non-human primates ? If these "subhumans" lack free will and, therefore, cannot chose to sin, how is it that their "nature" has allowed them to do such things? If it comes from "original sin," then has this spread to non-humans as well? If also the brains of homosexual (males at least) individuals are biochemically different than those of heterosexuals (as increasing scientific evidence suggests), meaning that the "homosexual impulse" may be "hard wired" so-to-speak rather than acquired, then is it "sin" that corrupted the hard wiring? Whose sin was it? "Whose sin was it that caused this man to be born blind?" was a question that even Jesus declined to answer directly. If you are going to argue from natural order, make it the real one.

  • Are you ELCA or Missouri? 5 years ago

    As someone who was part of the Journeying Together Faithfully study in the ELCA a few years back, I'm really surprised that you can speak from a Missouri/traditionally much more conservative branch of the Lutheran church about what the ELCA believes. I think you should clarify that you represent a much more conservative branch of Lutherans.

    I do however find Bill's remark completely inappropriate.

    I think you'll find that your opinion is not quite the direction the ELCA moves. I'm certain that the Jesus I know would preach nothing more than love.

  • Are you ELCA or Missouri? 5 years ago

    PS. I really have no issue with your opinion other than your article suggests you speak as an ELCA representative, and Shepherd on the Ridge is Missouri synod.

  • Kristine Miller 5 years ago

    Critchley, you're interpreting relationship solely in the context of sexuality, and I sure don't get that when I read scripture. What part of "love" do you not understand? It seems that you're exploiting scripture to justify homophobia, and THAT is so wrong! Not all people are alike, and not all families are the same. God wants us to care for each other, and to be in healthy relationships. Expecting people of same-gender orientation to limit themselves by being in opposite-gender relationships is dishonest and hurts everyone. How is that fulfillment of scripture? You need to reread the Bible with your heart, and not your prejudices.

    Signed, an ELCA Lutheran and proud of it, and also someone who's straight … not that it matters. (Get it? It doesn't MATTER!)

  • Dale 5 years ago

    As the author of this article, I'd like to respond to some of the comments. First, thanks for the feedback. Second, I never claimed to be ELCA, but rather an observer, thus the Twitter link.

    It seems "love" is being widely used to mean, "Be nice to people," whereas the Bible's definition works very differently. Jesus loved the Pharisees and told them when they were wrong. I reprimand my kids when they do something that is contrary to the Law of God and teach them the right way. How much they want it isn't the issue--it's simply a question of, "What did God say?"

    Jeffrey, living in a fallen world, we shouldn't be surprised that animals act contrary to God's natural order. Before the fall, they didn't kill, either.

    And if anyone disagrees with my theology, by all means do so--I value correction--but back it up with the Bible, not personal opinion.

  • Warren 5 years ago

    This is a very good article that explains what most of the people commenting have missed - that the rules about sex, relationships, and behavior in general are for our own good and beyond our own authority. God does not give laws to be rigid or stringent, but because He loves us. How many of you provide rules for your children out of meanheartedness or hatred? How many of you provide the same rules because you love your children and know what's best for them beyond their own understanding?

    One of the most unfortunate, but common mistakes is to equate non-acceptance of gay practice with hatred of gay people. I don't know if this is an honest misunderstanding or an intentional device. The article correctly points out that the two are not the same. We ALL fall short of the glory of God and none of us can stand on our own righteousness. We all have blatant sin that requires Christ's cleansing. Everyone should be welcome and loved in a Christian community.

  • Mexjewel 5 years ago

    Jesus defines sin as a lack of love for self or others (Mt 22:36-40). What is unloving about a homosexual sex/love relationship? Who is unloved, who is hurt? Who is sinned against? (Dear God, don't send my homosexual cat to hell!)

  • Warren 5 years ago

    >>Jesus defines sin as a lack of love for self or others (Mt 22:36-40).

    Jesus did not define sin in that passage. I think that is stretching the meaning. Sin is any rebellion against God's will. That would include not loving God or your neighbor (as commanded in the passage). It would also include breaking any of God's commandments because love for God is what brings us to obey His commandments. He could force us to observe His laws, but has instead opted to love us in anticipation of our returned love for Him.

    Any sin harms us and our relationship with God. Love for God encourages obedience which is the opposite reaction from sin.

    So to answer your question of who is harmed in a physical homosexual relationship, it is both partners and their relationships with God.

  • Conservative Mark 5 years ago

    But if it takes a village of tolerant heterosexuals to make a homosexual, would it not take a truly Bible following church to unmake one?

  • Dennis 5 years ago

    Dale
    Please don't suggest that the ELCA is considering bisexuals and transgenders....ie your reference to LGBT. Also your first point that sexual relations outside of marriage is also sin....true but in the case of Gays and Lesbians.....this is a "commitment" to sin (as they are in a committed relationship) that is "unrepentent", whereas those who sin outside of marriage at least have opportunity to repent.

  • Still Curious: 5 years ago

    Do you think the Bible is a living, breathing, evolving Word of God as understood by His children, or do you believe everything written is absolute and not open to interpretation?

    I ask because while you choose not to discuss the Leviticus text (for good reason, since Leviticus also suggests we stone our children to death for disobedience), I wonder why your interpretaion of Paul's words is so absolute?

  • Karen Light 5 years ago

    This is why I left Christianity. As much as people think they are "loving" and helping, they are destroying. My gay little brother committed suicide because of how "sinful" you cruel, self-loathing people told him he was. He struggled daily trying to pray himself away, and when God didn't not return his prayers, he took that as a sign that God hated him. If it wasn't for this toxic religion that teaches people that their life is a cruel irony, that they are corrupted and doomed to misery since birth, he might be alive to this day.

  • Rick Garner 4 years ago

    We can still love people and disagree with their choices. obamaprayers dot blogspot dot com

  • Passed by 66% 4 years ago

    Now what will happen to the Lutheran church?

  • Former ELCA 4 years ago

    Let's make this as elementary as we can. God created a man and a woman to fit together. Men don't "fit" with men. Women don't "fit" with women. Why is it that so many openly gay people come from such dysfunctional families. Could it be that being "gay" gives them a label that somehow causes them to feel justified? Pain from an absent father or an abusive family situation + someone accepting me as a gay person = I must be gay.
    If you're gay and reading this. Tell me about your upbringing and prove me wrong. I promise you, I am looking for someone to convince me I'm wrong.

  • Dale 4 years ago

    Karen, did you actually read the article? I'm sorry to hear about your brother, but the point is that Christianity is all about forgiveness, no matter what sin you struggle with. I wish your brother had heard that message, as it's the core of Christianity.

    Still Curious, I'm not a Marcionite. I believe the Leviticus passages have merit as well but must be read in a New Testament context, specifically in light of the Council of Jerusalem. I believe the Bible is a living breathing document, just as God is. And neither change.

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