In the last 10-20 years or so, the United States has undergone a dramatic paradigm shift in how homosexuality is perceived. We have traveled the path from shameful to accepting, from accepting to affirming, and now from affirming to embracing. As homosexuality and its acceptance has become more mainstream in our society, the Bible and its clear teaching on the matter has come under much greater attack. New lines of reasoning are being postulated in defense of these “alternative” lifestyles. The battle lines are drawn around the validity and viability of the Word of God, and we must be ready to give a defense against these onslaughts.
The Scriptural Imperative
While it may seem obvious from a practical sense that we must respond to this cultural shift, we must first remember that it is imperative from a Biblical standpoint. Colossians 4:5-6 implores us to have a Biblical worldview and an appropriate answer for those to whom we give the gospel. I Peter 3:15-16 requires us to articulate to others the reason for the hope we have in Christ. Titus 1:9 demands that elders (and by application, any mature Christian man) be able to refute those spouting subversive ideologies with sound doctrine from the Scriptures. In the life of Christ and the Apostles we are given numerous practical examples of these teachings fleshed out. Christ applied Scripture accurately and powerfully when men would dispute the validity of His teaching or works (Matt. 15:2-3ff; 21:23-27; 22:35-36, 46, et.al). The Apostles did the same as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:13-16ff; 4:6-10; 17:2-3, et.al). Many other examples could be cited, but the testimony of Scripture is clear: When God’s Word and the principles it contains are attacked, and when such an attack is given in the presence of a Christian or involves that Christian’s jurisdiction, it requires an answer!
Biblical Reasoning or Pragmatic Reasoning?
With the controversy swirling over this issue, every Christian should be prepared to give an answer when the moment arises. Our answer must come from the Word of God primarily. The Scriptures must form the foundation of our position.
Many medical studies have been done which give compelling evidence to the wisdom of abstaining from homosexual behavior. There are strong practical arguments for the benefits of heterosexual relationships over homosexual relationships for our society and nation. One might raise reasonable and logical objections to homosexuality and same sex marriage based upon medicine, science, law, history, morality, tradition, or a number of other spheres. It can be tempting to form the basis of our defense upon these more culturally accepted methods. However, if any of these are the focal point of the debate, the battle will be fought on the field of man’s reasoning rather than on the bedrock of God’s immutable Word. The power to effect true change in man always finds its source in God and His Word (Heb. 4:12-13, Jas. 1:21). Any practical arguments should be used to reinforce the Biblical arguments, and not the other way around!
Humble Messengers or Hypocritical Haters?
Furthermore, our reasoning must not only be Biblical, but also loving. Of course for it to be the former, the latter must necessarily follow. It is quite easy to condemn the homosexual lifestyle with a quick reference to Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, or Genesis 19, wielding the Sword with great lethal jabs at what we view as the basest sort of perverse debauchery. In so doing, we can lose perspective of our own despicable condition which places us in the same rotting pile of filth apart from Christ (Ephesians 2). Such an attitude transforms God’s judgement into our own personal vendetta, making us hypocrites (Rom 2:1-2, Matt. 7:1-5, Jn. 7:24).
This Pharisaical attitude (Matt. 23:25-28) does great harm to the name of Christ and His Word. Even if we have a correct heart attitude toward this issue and the persons involved, we must exercise due diligence in making a wide berth around the approach and semantics of those who have done much damage under the guise of Christianity and the Bible. A good case in point from my neck of the woods is Westboro Baptist “Church” pastored by Fred Phelps (calling itself “Baptist”, “Independent”, and “Calvinist” no less), which has made a name for itself by picketing the funerals of gay soldiers with (Warning: Pictures linked contain crude language!) offensive, crude, and completely false slogans. Groups such as this (and other individuals who are much less extreme, but still prideful) create powerful stereotypes in the minds of the lost about what the Bible, Christianity, and in this case, “Baptist”, really mean.
In addition to these preconceived notions, it is also prudent to consider the mindset of homosexuality. Persons exhibiting this behavior have (I believe) often resorted to such a lifestyle (sometimes unwittingly) in response to extreme neglect or abuse by parents and/or other influential authority figures. It is typical for the homosexual to have deep emotional fractures. Therefore, when we approach them with our noses lifted high above their lowly condition, attacking them personally with “Bible” or “religion”, their response will naturally be defensive and spiteful. They are seeking love, acceptance, and purpose in all the wrong places, and we will never draw their hearts to Christ with arrogance, pride, and an attitude of superiority. We must remember the adjectives by which we are to give our answers and defense — “grace” in Colossians 4:6 and “gentleness” in I Peter 3:15. This does not counteract the boldness of passages like Titus 1:9-13, but simply gives that boldness the correct context.
Entering the Fray
To articulate a sound Biblical defense in the spirit of humility on any issue takes time, careful study, personal examination, and an active relationship with the Father through our Priest (Heb. 2:17) and Teacher (Jn. 14:26). On this issue, such a ready defense is critical. This is one of the defining Spiritual battles of our generation, and we must not forego the conflict.