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Why do some churches affirm the LGBTQ stance?

Weekly Q&A

Why do some churches affirm the LGBTQ stance?
Posted on October 20, 2020  - By Godly John

If God is clear about condemning homosexuality in the Bible, how is it that many churches are affirming LGBTQ rights? What Bible are they using? Specifically, I’m interested in how they derive their arguments, and what would your counterarguments be with regard to their interpretation of these passages?

Why are there different views within the church?

Historically speaking, the simple reason for differing views in the church on many questions would have been based on the degree to which traditions and church structures played a role. The story is quite different today. With the redefinition of many core biblical truths, it is the degree to which the church is in tune with the world around that dictates the views of a church on hot-button issues. But the more we agree with worldly impulses, the more we realise that it is a reflection of our own convictions about what matters the most: societal acceptance — not God’s truth.

This is nothing new. All through church history, we have seen many unbiblical teachings promoted and justified from pulpits ― much to the church’s shame. But this is not just a church issue. Even in ancient times, there were Israelite ‘prophets’ who claimed to speak for God though they clearly did not proclaim God’s truth and wisdom (Jeremiah 23:21-22).

The reality is that, when we intentionally misinterpret Scripture and teach what is not found therein, we are, in effect, proclaiming that the opinions of man are more trustworthy than the Word of God itself. Scripture testifies that those who trust in God (Proverbs 29:25) and His Word are the ones who are His people (John 17:17).

When we teach what is not found in Scripture, we are, in effect, proclaiming the opinions of man more trustworthy than the Word of God 

The great debate

What are the arguments and interpretations used to justify homosexuality and are they correct?

Without getting into too much detail, I’d like to briefly outline a few common arguments that are promoted by pro-homosexual activists in the church today.

1. The Old Testament doesn’t apply to us.

This is a common argument that seems convincing to the lay Christian. Unfortunately, this is because of the lack of clear teaching of the relation between Old and New covenants in the church. The argument admits that the Old Testament clearly and unequivocally condemns homosexuality ― with the penalty being capital punishment. But since it is only one of the many rules and regulations (like eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics) that the nation of Israel had to follow back then, it doesn’t apply to Christians who follow the New Testament. 

This argument is incorrect because it is based on a misunderstanding of the distinctions in God’s laws. There is a distinction between laws that are ceremonial and laws that are moral. The ceremonial laws are fulfilled in Christ, but the moral law still applies to us. We find this confirmation in Jesus’ own words (Matthew 5:17-20). The penalty for breaking the moral law in the OT was exercised by the nation of Israel. Today, this sin amongst believers is dealt with by church discipline or excommunication, which is indicative of the person not being an heir of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Homosexuality continues to be a sin in the New Testament and carries with it the penalty of eternal death outside of God’s kingdom.

2. The prohibitions are not correctly understood.

Another common argument is the idea that the prohibition itself is a case of mistaken understanding of the sinful act. A famous passage to illustrate this is the story of Lot and his visitors in Genesis 19:4-9, where the men of the city of Sodom surrounded the house of Lot and wanted to get a hold of his visitors.

Homosexuality is a sin in the New Testament too and carries with it the penalty of eternal death outside of God’s kingdom

The argument is that it was not the sin of homosexuality for which these men were condemned but rather for inhospitality to strangers. This is incorrect. Jude 7 clarifies this when it says: “…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”

So, while inhospitality is part of the behaviour traits displayed by the people of Sodom, it is explicitly for the sin of ‘sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire’ that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah received judgment. 

3. The prohibitions are ignorant.

Another common argument proposed is that, while it is obvious that Scripture is negative towards homosexuality, the reality is that the authors lived in an ancient and regressive time and were influenced by outdated cultural perceptions and ignorance. The recent ‘discovery’ of sexual orientation and existence of ‘faithful’ monogamous homosexual relations are proof that what was discussed in the Bible is not applicable to us ― the modem man.

Some have even gone as far as to say that, because the biblical human authors are ignorant and illiterate, we must take their perspectives with a pinch of salt. They claim to trust in the God of the New Testament who is full of love and grace. If God made some gay, then why would they need to change their behaviour? 

These are postmodern views that claim truth is really all about the experience. The greatest truth that this generation holds up is itself and its perceptions. It trumps objective truth and denies God’s design in favour of personal identities and convictions.

The way to counter this foolishness is to teach the objective truths found in God’s law and his natural design. The truth of the biological binary i.e. that God made humankind as man and woman can never be erased from the world we live in because this world is the Lord’s (Psalm 103:19). God is unchanging and man’s sinfulness is the same as in the 1st century AD. Postmodernism is just another way to avoid dealing with the wrath of God on the sinfulness of man (Romans 1:18-32). 

The greatest truth this generation holds up is itself. It trumps objective truth and denies God’s design in favour of personal identities and convictions

A call to faithfulness

The foundational premise in all these arguments is that is that the human experience can never be questioned. In man’s worship of his own experience, he shapes God’s word to fit it. Instead of God’s unchanging Word shaping our lives, we bend His Word according to our ideas and ‘truth’. Scripture, on the other hand, portrays us as being the recipients of grace in Jesus Christ. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer captures this reality in his book, Life Together, when he says, “The Christian no longer lives of himself, by his own claims and his own justification, but by God’s claims and God’s justification. The death and the life of the Christian is not determined by his own resources; rather he finds both only in the Word that comes to him from the outside, in God’s Word to him. The Reformers expressed it this way: Our righteousness is an “alien righteousness”, a righteousness that comes from outside of us. The Christian lives wholly by the truth of God’s Word in Jesus Christ.”

The consequence of accepting any of these arguments is that it leads to the denial of biblically defined sins and indulgence in sinful behaviours that dishonour God, distort the gospel, and diminish the church’s holy witness and lead people to walk in even greater darkness on the path to destruction (Matthew 7:21-23). Those who practise unrighteousness (including homosexuality) will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

But God does not leave us without a way out! Through the gospel, He justifies us by the perfect atonement of Christ and cleanses us through the continuing work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11). 

The consequence of accepting these arguments is that it leads to sinful behaviours that distort the gospel

As Christians, we are no longer the masters of our destiny but rather, the ones whom the Master has destined. Until we give up all our worldly ideas, impulses and desires, we can never experience true life that finds its source in God and His unchanging Word (Isaiah 40:8). Give up yourself and your desires to God and submit them to His Word in Jesus Christ. You will enjoy true blessedness (Luke 11:28).

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).

Godly John

About Godly John

Raised in the Middle East, now living in Melbourne, Australia, Godly John is married with one son. A former agnostic, he is now involved in lay teaching ministries at his local church, and loves thinking about the intersection between reformed theology, philosophy, culture and ethics.



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